I’ve lived in England for a full twenty five years. Which is long enough to know that if I find myself strolling along Regent Canal in a t-shirt and shorts with a Mr Whippy in hand in mid-March, then there’s probably some sort of karma lurking round the corner.
Call me a pessimist – but I’d call myself a realist.
And sure enough, all plans of sunbathing over Easter weekend seem to be out of the window. Apparently we’ll be building snowmen instead.
If you haven’t been organised enough to order your spring lamb, then here’s a warm, hearty beef recipe instead. Perfect for snuggling up, opening a bottle of rouge, and staving off the chill over the bank holiday.
This is based on a Hawksmoor recipe. It’s not a cheap place to eat – I’m talking £30 for a steak. So it was particularly good news that 1.5kg of shin bone from The Ginger Pig (a high-end London butcher- and do go somewhere high end when bone marrow is involved) came to just £12 and easily fed five. Delicious and cheap.
Ingredients (easily feeds five)
1.5kg of beef shin with the bone in – as I mentioned, do go to a decent place, it’s such a cheap cut it’s really not worth scrimping, and ending up with a piece of meat that’s going to shrink.
8 shallots, peeled but left whole
5 big carrots, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
750ml decent red wine
1 litre beef stock (I used knorr cubes, and that was just fine)
1 litre chicken stock (I used knorr cubes, and that was just fine)
200g smoked bacon
150g good Parmesan (though the recipe recommends Doddington)
Herbs: 2 bay leaved, sprig of rosemary, 20 fennel seeds
The night before, pour the bottle of wine into an ovenproof dish along with the herbs, carrot chunks and shallots. Add the shin, and leave it in the fridge overnight to marinade.
As you can see from the photograph, I didn’t get round to turning it at all – it didn’t matter in the end, but would’ve probably been a good idea.
The next day, remove the beef, vegetables and herbs (using a slotted spoon), and put them on one side in a bowl. Heat up the wine on a hob, reducing by half. Add the chicken and beef stock, and bring it up to simmering point.
Meanwhile, heat up all the butter in a non-stick frying pan so it’s sizzling. Brown the shin on all sides and remove. Next, fry the bacon and the red-wine soaked vegetables to the same pan, and let everything sizzle away so the bacon is cooked (but not crispy), and the vegetables have some colour. Now add the shin, herbs, bacon and vegetables to the pan of stock, and put in an oven at 150C for three to four hours.
By now the meat should be falling off the bone. Yum. For one last time, remove the shin, vegetables, bacon and herbs from the pan and put them in a bowl to one side.
Now put the pan of winey stock back onto the hob and reduce the volume by half (skimming off any scum that might rise to the surface).
In a separate pan boil some salty water and cook the macaroni. It’s fine to leave it a little more al dente than usual, because it still gets a bit more cooking.
Once the winey stock has reduced by half, return the meat, vegetables, bacon and herbs to the pan. Add half the cheese and macaroni, and stir everything together gently. Sprinkle the remaining half of the cheese on the top. Pop it back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, and finally give it a small blast under the grill before serving.
We used two forks to shred the meat off the shin bone, stirred everything together, and served it in a bowl with a glass of red wine. Rich, meaty, marrow-y deliciousness.