Today I have revived a very old recipe. This was first published in a 1937 book called Economical Cookery. I've mentioned the book several times on this blog, and a few years ago wrote a post all about it and its suggested menus.
With the weather turning chilly, it's time to start thinking about warming casseroles and stews, so I've adapted the Jugged Beef recipe from the book to suit more up to date ingredients, measurements and oven settings. It still has that hearty, warming, traditional taste though - even if it doesn't look terribly pretty! I've still used the technique in the book of browning all the meat at once, something we are often advised against, and not frying the onions at all. It seems to work just as well as my usual, more washing-up intensive, way!
To serve 2-3, you will need
400g diced braising steak
4 rashers streaky bacon
2 small onions, sliced.
1 rounded tablespoon of plain flour
25g butter or lard
rind and juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
leaves from 1 stick of celery, or a small piece of the stalk
a 3cm length of cinnamon stick
water or beef stock
for the dumplings: 60g self raising flour and 30g shredded suet
I like to use a cast iron casserole dish for this but any flame proof casserole will do, just check a lighter weight one regularly to make sure it isn't boiling dry.
Put the lemon rind, herbs, celery, cinnamon and cloves into a piece of muslin (actually I use a J-cloth, and despite what Bridget Jones experienced, it doesn't turn anything blue) and tie with string to make a sort of giant bouquet garni.
Heat the oven to 160 C (140 Fan), 325 F, gas mark 3.
Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces and place in the cold pan, then heat it over moderate heat until the fat runs out and the bacon starts to fry in its own fat.
Toss the beef in the flour and seasoning, then add it and the butter to the pan, reserving any remaining flour. Cook until evenly browned, turning occasionally but not stirring hard.
Reduce the heat to low and dust in the leftover flour. Pour over water or stock to just cover, add the herb and spice bundle, add the lemon juice and onions, cover, bring to a gentle simmer and place in the oven for around 2 hours.
45 minutes before it is due to be ready, mix the flour and suet together with a pinch of salt and add just enough water to allow you to roughly shape it into 4 balls.
Remove the dish from the oven and discard the bag of herbs and spices. Mix in the redcurrant jelly, stirring until it has melted into the gravy. Place the 4 dumpling balls on top and return to the oven to finish cooking. Some people like to leave the lid off while dumplings are cooking, to brown them on top, but I think they come out lighter if they are covered.
Serve with good old fashioned winter veg, as befits a winter stew!
Now, let's have a look what the book suggest as tomorrow's menus for the day, shall we?
Steak and kidney hotpot
Feeling full yet?