Rainey weekends in the kitchen

Most of my cooking is comfort cooking and at this time of year I spend a lot of time in the kitchen because being outside is cold and wet. I am perfectly happy romping about in the woods in the rain but sometimes it really is nice to be all cosy in the kitchen cooking up a storm of your own.

At this time of year I love hearty soups, stews and big roast dinners. Its a great time of year to make the most of lots of wild game on offer, though sometimes it is great (and a little cheaper when catering for a few) to have an old favourite – beef. As I am off to Italy soon, my taste-buds can’t WAIT, a friend came down for the night to say good bye. In honour of thrift, I’ve been using up all the bits and pieces in my freezer before I go and so I cooked an enormous rib of beef. It was delicious, slow roasted in garlic and ale, with mushroom gravy and potatoes roasted in beef fat. Yum! And even  better, because the rib was so huge, I’ve got leftovers. Carrying on the theme from the last post, I shall now offer a couple of recipes that use the beef you’ve got left over from Sunday roast.

Recipes for Beef

Firstly there is the roast beef sandwich, delicious with some big juicy slices of tomato and lashings of punchy mustard. Perfect for Monday lunchtime.

Another of my favourites is stroganoff. Slice your beef into thin strips and slice up a good variety of strongly flavoured mushrooms, such as portobello or porcini. Fry the mushrooms on a high heat in some leftover beef fat until browned and reduced, add a bit of gravy if you’ve got any left – mushrooms absorb a lot of liquid when they’re cooking so might as well add an extra beefy dimension! Chuck in the beef pieces and reduce the temperature of the pan, then add double cream. A good dollop of bearnaise sauce does wonders too if you’ve got some lurking in the fridge from that steak night you had last week. If not, add a handful of taragon and then simmer until the cream is thick and full of beefy, mushroomy juices. Served with rice traditionally, though it makes a great pasta sauce, or even pour it over mashed potatoes.

Next, chili. An excellent way to use up leftover beef, chili is usually made with mince beef but chunks of meat are traditional. Mix up a teaspoon of flaked chili, half a tsp of cayenne pepper, two tsp of smoked paprika, and one tsp ground cumin. Add a clove of garlic and mash it all together then rub it into the pieces of beef (about 500g if you’ve got it, if not just reduce the spice mix a little). Leave to stand while you chop an onion, open and drain a can of kidney beans and put some rice on to soak. Heat the oil in a fairly big saucepan, add the chopped onion once its hot and fry until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the beef to the pan, making sure all the spices go in too. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of kidney beans, 300ml beef stock (either a cube dissolved in water or homemade from the beef bones left from the roast), a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a little sugar really help bring out the flavours of the tomatoes but are not necessary if you don’t have them available. Also, a glass of a robust red wine and about 150g of 70% dark chocolate can be added too – both really enhance the flavours. Simmer altogether for as long as you can, my mother once left a chili in the slow cooker for 3 days as she got caught in a snow storm, best chili ever! When ready to serve switch off the heat and leave to stand while you cook the rice. Serve with sour cream and extra chili for those that like it hot!

Unless you massively over catered this should use up your leftovers nicely, a couple of other ideas include beef stir fry, curry, or pies. Pies could be a good way of using up the leftover puff pastry you might have from the apple pie you made for pudding too 😉 Happy cooking!

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