I’m a great fan of cooking with alcohol. A glass of wine in my hand, another for the pot is good. Usually I use wine, but on this occasion I used beer, a dark beer called Hobgoblin (don’t you just love the names of some of the Ales produced in England!).
The recipe was another of my beloved slow cooked dishes, a pot roast this time, and it’s a perfect all in one dish that just needs some boiled potatoes or creamy mash to soak up all those delicious juices. Any leftovers make a perfect topping for pasta.
The steam in the photos must be the Hobgoblin escaping from the finished dish….
Ingredients (to serve 6 people)
2 onions peeled and cut into quarters
8 small carrots peeled and cut into large wedges
3 celery sticks cut into pieces about the same size as the carrots
2 leeks, cut into large chunks (or substitute any of your favourite root vegetables)
A piece of brisket, about 1.5kg
About 300ml of dark beer (don’t use Guinness though, it will be too bitter in the final dish)
About 100ml of beef stock
A little olive oil and flour
Dust the joint of meat with flour and in a deep frying pan with a little oil, brown the meat all over. Season the joint, remove and put into the cooking pot or slow cooker. Add the vegetables to the frying pan and cook until the onion starts to turn brown at the edges, then put them into the slow cooker (or oven dish if you are cooking in a conventional oven).
Pour the beer and stock into the frying pan and scrape up the juices from the beef. Sprinkle in a level tablespoon of flour and stir as you heat the liquid. It will start to thicken slightly. Bring the liquid to a boil and pour over the meat.
Cook in the slow cooker for an hour on high and then for about a further 7 hours on low until the meat is really tender. In a conventional oven it will need about 4 hours on low. You will need to turn the meat over 2 or 3 times during the cooking period as it will not be covered entirely by the liquid in the pot.
When it is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables from the sauce. If the sauce looks too thin, put it into a pan and either fast boil it to reduce or make a beurre manié . It’s made with equal parts of butter and flour mixed together and stirred into the hot liquid – about a tablespoon of each for this dish. Add it to the liquid and cook until thickened. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary, pour over the meat and vegetables and enjoy.
Although we love our life Up the Mountain, sometimes it´s good to get out. Last night a new friend organised tickets for a group of us to go the theatre in Malaga to see a show at the Instituto Andaluz de Flamenco. As you´d expect from the name of the venue, it was an evening of dance – Flamenco fused at times with ballet. Very lovely, and certainly nothing like some of the dreadful “shows” some venues put on to keep the tourists happy. I´m sorry I can´t show you any photos as some of the costumes were spectacular.
After the show we were not quite ready to go home, you may recall that the Spaniards believe the night is for fun and partying, so we headed over to a the development, recently opened at Málaga port, where many of the large cruise ships stop.
It reminded me a little of Sydney Harbour with lots of shops, bars and restaurants and I hope that as the warmer weather comes and more people learn about it, it will be a huge success.
We went to a Cervecería, a beer “tavern” where they serve buckets of beer…
And then a final stroll back to the car, giving us the opportunity to enjoy views of the Cathedral and the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro – a Moorish fortification overlooking the city.
Wearily we made our way home, only to find out this morning that an earth tremor had been felt at 4am in the next village. Clearly the beers had done their work and we had slept through the whole thing!
Pimientos de Padrón are a popular tapas, especially when they´re in season during the summer. They are little green peppers that come from a town in Galicia (northern Spain) called Padrón. So, their name translated means “peppers from Padrón”. A little saying about them is that “algunos pican, otros no” which means “some are hot, some are not”. To be honest, as a dedicated chili eater, they´re mostly not that spicy…apart from some we grew last year which seemed to want to be like all the other chilis in the vegetable garden and nearly blew my head off!
If you do manage to find them, all you do is deep fry them in very hot oil. When the skin starts to blister and turn black (this will take long moments rather than long minutes), drain them and sprinkle heavily with coarse salt.
Eat with a cold beer to wash down the spicy, salty tastes or a delicious clara (that´s a shandy to you and me).
And whilst you´ve got that oil hot, how about quickly deep frying some sage leaves and sprinkling them with salt too.
They can become really addictive, and as it´s a herb they´ve got to be better for you than crisps…haven´t they?!
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....