Slow Cooked Beef Ribs

Before we set off for Spain and the kingdom of the pig, we had one final beef-feast meal in England. We have a local butcher, a young man called Ben who is passionate about locally sourced, organic meat and providing new and exciting cuts of meat to his customers. We love to shop at his store and make the most of what he recommends.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (5)

The other week it was beef ribs, something I hadn’t eaten for years. Put images of the court of Henry VIII out of your mind, with massive roasts supported by half a cow. Something like that just wouldn’t fit in our modern day ovens! I bought six ribs which I asked him to separate into individual ribs, so that I could slow cook them. I had anticipated 2 ribs per person but after our prawn starter, we managed 4 ribs between 3 people – I leave it to you to decide if, like me, “your eyes are greedier than your belly” (as my grandmother used to say)!

It’s not a complicated dish to prepare, the impact of flavour comes from the long, slow cooking which can also be done in a conventional oven.

Ingredients (to feed 4-6 people)

  • 6 beef ribs, separated into individual ribs
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • A large sprig of rosemary
  • A glass of red wine (plus one for the cook)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Maldon (or kosher) salt

Heat a griddle pan to high and switch your slow cooker on to heat (or switch on the oven to low). Sear the ribs on all sides on a high heat until browned. You will probably need to do this in a couple of batches unless you have a huge griddle pan like me!

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (1)

While they are being browned, gently heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep frying pan. Add the garlic and as soon as it starts to soften, add the tomatoes, the tomato purée and the wine.  Bring to a gentle bubble, season lightly and pop the rosemary in. You are not looking to make a finished sauce at this point, just to get it started and to ensure that it’s hot when it goes into the slow cooker or oven.

Put the ribs into either the slow cooker or an oven dish which you can cover. Sprinkle lightly with Maldon salt and pour the sauce over. Cover the pot/slow cooker and be very, very patient. I cooked mine on low in the slow cooker for about 10 hours, turning them over gently 3 or 4 times during this period until the meat was falling off the bones. In a conventional oven I think 5 or 6 hours should be fine, and if you can make the dish a day ahead, even better.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (2)

Gently remove the ribs from the sauce, trying to keep the meat with the bones if (like us) you feel cheated if someone else gets your bone.

Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (6)

Put the sauce into a pan, remove the rosemary and reduce for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. If you want a silky smooth sauce, use a hand blender to sort out those little chunks of tomato. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve the ribs with the sauce on the side so that strange folk like Big Man can eat them without and normal folk like me can smother them. Creamy mashed potato is always a good idea.

If you happen to be in beautiful Bexhill, do pop into London Road Butchers and say hello to Ben!

For more slow cooked dishes, why not try Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks or Mustard and Cider Chicken?

Calamares en Salsa de Tomate – Quick Braised Squid in a Garlicky Tomato Sauce

This is a lovely, light dish which looks impressive but is quick and easy to prepare. More so if you have already made some tomato sauce and buy ready cleaned  squid.

If you need some help cleaning your squid, click here.

Ingredients Per Person

  • 3-4 medium squid, cleaned
  • 1 cup of garlicky tomato sauce (To make mine I soften 3 crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil, then add 1 kilo of crushed peeled tomatoes, 2 tablespoon of tomato purée, half a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of sugar, plenty of fresh garlic, a glass of red wine and a few stalks of basil leaves. Simmer for about an hour, remove the basil and you´re done. This will give you 6-8 cups of sauce).
  • Seasoning

Simply warm the sauce through then drop in the squid (this can be served whole or cut into smaller chunks. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until the squid has turned white. Taste, season, then serve – see, I told you it was easy!

Baked Chicken Breast with Cream Cheese Stuffing and Tomato Sauce

When you breed chickens for eating, you´re going to have to deal with the chicken, the whole chicken, and nothing but the chicken.

Most of our Fat Boys end up being cut up into individual portions with the skin off – they´re easier to store in the freezer that way and you don´t have to pluck them.  Chicken Breast has always been my least favourite part…typically it can be a little dry and bland.  Now that we get to eat our own chickens, I can at least say that the breasts are neither dry nor bland and taste great just done on the griddle with olive oil and salt and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Some of our chickens are real monsters though – and with no artificial feed.  Just corn, wheat and a long-ish life (at least in terms of chickens for eating) pecking around our olives.  One chicken breast can weigh about 500g and is plenty to feed two.  Sometimes it´s nice to jazz it up a little, and this is a firm favourite.

  • One monster chicken breast or two regular
  • Two tablespoons of cream cheese mixed with one crushed clove of garlic, a sprinkle of salt and a tablespoon of your favourite herb finely chopped (I like basil or chives with this)
  • About four tablespoons of tomato sauce (i.e. made from fresh or tinned tomatoes)
  • Grated cheese
  • Seasoning
  • Olive oil

Split the chicken breast in two without cutting all the way through.  Fill with the cream cheese and close.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over, massaging it in all over.

Put into a baking dish and pour over the tomato sauce.  Bake on medium for about 30 minutes.  Check that it is done by piercing it – if the juices run clear, you´re done.  If not, cook for a further 10 mins, check and repeat if necessary.  When cooked, grate cheese over the top, pop it under a hot grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling, and serve.

This is a great prepare ahead dish (up to the stage before you start to cook) and if the breast is large, serve cut into slices with a little extra tomato sauce on the side for your loved ones who prefer things saucy!

Pork ´n´ Beans – Slow Cooked Pork Shank with Borlotti Beans

Just what you need when it´s 32 degrees hot outside!

Ok, so I know it´s summer here and hot, hot, hot…but I just fancied it!  Our local “Big” Supermarket (ie. a 50km drive away) has started selling pork shanks.  It´s a cheap cut of meat but oh so tasty.  I bought two to cook, but in the end we still have one portion of this dish in the freezer as there was so much meat on each shank.

It´s a slow cook dish, you can be a bit cavalier with the ingredients depending on how saucy you like your finished dish.  It was so tender by the time it was done, the meat fell off the bones as I served it.  This makes for a less artistic food photo, but two very happy pups!

To make the dish I used:

  • About a cup and a half of borlotti beans which I soaked overnight (but you could use tinned)
  • Two cups of tomato sauce (crushed tomatoes cooked slowly with garlic, red wine, seasoning and rosemary until thickened)
  • Two pork shanks
  • Two large sprigs of rosemary
  • A large dried chili
  • Approx two cups of water (enough to cover the pork and beans)
  • Four slices of smoked bacon, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Three large cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole

To finish the dish

  • Half a cup of finely chopped bobby beans
  • Four small potatoes, diced

Put all the first list of ingredients into a large pot with a lid and cook very slowly for about four hours (or longer) in a low oven.  If you have time, it´s best left overnight before eating to allow the flavours to really develop. When I was ready to serve I heated the dish up and simmered for about 20 minutes to allow it to thicken a little then I added the beans and potato and cooked them until tender.

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Definitely a dish to eat with a lovely glass of red wine, lots of crusty bread and a big spoon.  Have a sofa handy for reclining afterwards, a siesta is now in order!

Mediterranean Vegetable Stack

 
My Humble Homage to the Beautiful Berenjena

I adore aubergines, so when my first two aubergines were ripe for picking, I decided to treat them with the love that they deserved.

My two little purple beauties

It was a very simple dish, especially if you already have some tomato sauce made.  If not, fry up a little garlic, add some chopped tomatoes, a slug of red wine and some basil then season and simmer.

I sliced my aubergines (eggplant) and grilled them on the barbecue until smoky and tender.  Then I put them on an oven tray and layered them with pesto, cheese, tomato sauce and basil leaves.

Then I popped it all into a hot oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese had softened (it was a very hard goat´s cheese, so it didn´t really melt!). 

Finally I drizzled some basil oil over, poured myself a glass of rosé and sat back to pay homage to my first little purple beauties of the summer.

First Runner Beans of the year….

 
Grubby Gardening Hands

Yes, the planting is starting to deliver!  Great excitement this week with my two best friends visiting, with lots of talking, laughing eating and drinking going on.

The vegetable patch gave us its first little crop of runner beans this week, and a second picking a few days later.  Big Man, despite being the largest of the family group this week, was given the honour of squeezing in between the bean canes and picking those precious runners, making sure not to knock any of the delicate flowers (or future beans) off.

When I was last in the UK I bought a little gadget for cutting runner beans.  You snip the ends off with a little blade then run them through a hole with several blades.  Result?  Long thin strings of spaghetti like bean strips.  This means you can cook them quickly and still retain colour and flavour.

I won´t say it´s quicker than doing it the old fashioned way with a sharp knife, but you can see how pretty they look with this simple bowl of boiled beans lurking behind some barbecued hake with alioli.  We served them just  warm with olive oil and lemon juice.

Pretty Beans

Inspired by a delicious recipe over at Fati´s Recipes, I also cooked some up later in the week with mushrooms and a simple tomato sauce.

I lightly fried some sliced mushrooms.  

Stir fry in a little olive oil

Then I added some blanched beans (which I had chopped into little squares this time).

Add blanched beans

Finally I poured over some home made tomato sauce, a little water, seasoning and simmered until ready. 

Simmer gently...

Delicious!

Thank you vegetable garden!