At the end of an aisle in our nearest big supermarket there’s a treasure trove of different leftover meat from the butcher’s counter, where a cheap and cheerful offering of generic ‘braising steak’ cuts live.
I marinated the meat in Leffe beer overnight with some peppercorns, then patted dry the next day and reserved the beer.
Now for some slow-cooking knowledge from school: Braised, stewed or pot-roasted, this beef needs browning before the liquid is added. Scorching the meat is a no-no, as the meat will struggle to soften but a good amount of colour lends to the flavour of the end dish.
I added a lot of onion that disintegrated into a thick sauce with the beer after a couple of hours cooking. Hob or oven, the meat will get along fine without much meddling. A check for tenderness now and again will suffice. Initially on cooking a tough cut, the meat will as luck would have it; toughen, it will then start a cycle of tender to tough depending on how long you cook it. You want to stop it at that first stage of tender cooked, so it’s coming apart with a spoon with no resistance but still holding structure, having shrunk a little.
I hadn’t made dumplings before but this Jamie recipe was so easy and suet-free. I added some dried herbs since I didn’t have any fresh but it was still nice. They didn’t ‘suck up’ as much liquid as mentioned in the recipe, which meant I didn’t have to water down the lovely syrupy gravy.
A hearty dish for Autumn, plus it makes the house smells beery and comforting, like fresh bread is being baked. If you’re a healthy human, you could even add some root vegetables in the mix.