Posts Tagged 'beef'

Traditional Beef and Guinness Stew

Beef in Stout

This dish is great for Sunday lunch, you have to try it. I use a full litre of stout and gently simmer on the hob for around two and a half hours. The sauce reduces and meat becomes really tender. No stock cubes needed here! Eat with plenty of floury spuds, a cut of bread, or a pint of the black stuff.


  • 125g streaky bacon, cubed
  • 1kg stewing beef (such as round steak), cubed
  • 2 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 litre stout
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 3 large carrots, washed but unpeeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 tbsp tomato pureé (optional)
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Add a little oil to a frying pan and fry the streaky bacon until golden. Transfer to a large cast-iron casserole or heavy stewpot.
  2. Brown the beef. Toss the beef in the seasoned flour. Add a little more oil to the frying pan and fry the beef in batches until caramelised. Make sure you do this  in batches so as not to overload your pan. Transfer the browned beef to the casserole.
  3. Add a little more oil and fry the onions until caramelised. Add to the casserole.
  4. Pour some stout into the hot frying pan to de-glaze it. As the stout bubbles, scrape at the bottom of the pan to remove any caramelised juices from the bacon and the beef. Add the rest of the stout and de-glazed juices to the casserole.
  5. Now, assemble the rest of the dish. To the casserole, add the celery, carrot, tomato pureé, Worcestershire sauce, stock, herbs, salt and the rest of the stout. Season with  plenty of freshly ground pepper. Stir well and place a lid on the casserole but leave a large crack to allow the sauce to reduce. Bring up to a gentle simmer and leave for about 2½ hours (check after 2 hours). Give the casserole a stir every so often to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the casserole. Taste for seasoning and add a little extra salt if you need.


  • You could use shin beef for this. Just trim a little of the fat from the meat and add at least an hour to the cooking time to allow this tough meat to tenderise. The extra fat in the meat will melt out, giving a rich and unctuous sauce.

Serves 4.

Goan Beef Vindaloo

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 5/8

Curry & Rice

Vindaloo has a pretty bad rep, being the lager louts favourite, but it’s actually a very traditional dish and a great example of early fusion cookery. It originated in Portugal – the Portuguese spice traders brought their traditional pork dish “vin des alhos” to the sub-continent, where the meat is braised in wine and garlic. The Indians substituted wine for wine vinegar and added lots of chilli and a little spice. This traditional recipe has a fantastic flavour.

It might look a little strange to see beef  in a curry as it’s not often seen in Indian restaurants here. But many Indians, such as Parsees, Muslims and Christians regularly eat beef and many traditional recipes exist for beef. Even some Hindus will eat “bull” beef or buffalo, only omitting the cow from their diet for religious reasons. Vindaloo is more commonly prepared with diced pork so you can easily substitute the beef.

Vindaloo should taste sour and pungent from the chillies and red wine vinegar. It’s for serious curry aficionados only, but you could try reducing the amount of chilli if you want a milder dish.

I love that this dish is so vastly different from the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh and South Indian Lamb Curry that I cook. I think the important thing for us Westerners cooking Indian food is to embrace the differences between all of these dishes. It’s all too easy to expect every curry to taste the same, as it does in a bog-standard curry house.


  • 1.2kg stewing beef
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, poppy seeds, garam masala
  • 20 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 5 cloves
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric
  • 1½ tbsp red wine/cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, garam masala, paprika, turmeric) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, curry leaves, poppy seeds). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced beef and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, salt, vinegar, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is great with a pilau or plain basmati rice.

Serves 6.


  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken or bone-in chicken breasts and cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is well cooked through.
  • Restaurant vindaloo invariably contains potato, seemingly caused by some confusion over the fact that potatoes are called “aloo” in Hindi. Potatoes are not found in a traditional vindaloo, but it is not uncommon to find potatoes in other meat curries. If you wish to add some potato to this dish, pre-boil some peeled potatoes in salted water and allow to cool. Fry the potatoes in hot oil with a little salt and a pinch of ground cumin until light golden. Add the potatoes to the curry a few minutes before serving to warm through.

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Spag Bol

We love “Spag Bol” in our house. If I was a real food blogger, I would have called this post “ragu”. But I don’t have a problem with accompanying this great sauce with spaghetti, so spaghetti bolognese it is. What I am precious about, and have been for many years, is not using that crappy red gloop you buy in jars.

This recipe is the real deal. Good quality minced beef and pork, a good vegetable base, some wine, tomato passata and a few herbs transform this innocent sounding dish into something truly special. If you try this recipe I promise you’ll never cook a “bol” in any other way.


  • 450g minced beef
  • 450 minced pork (or use 800g of beef with 100g smoked bacon pieces)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 small courgette, finely chopped
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 1 glass wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of sugar
  • handful of fresh basil (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onion and fry until golden.
  2. Add the minced beef and pork and fry hard until brown, then add the garlic and fry for a minute more.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and fry for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the basil. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan, then reduce the heat and leave on a very gentle simmer for 45 minutes. Don’t be tempted to shorten the cooking time – this is important to let the flavours deepen.
  5. Cook a batch of your favourite spaghetti (I like to use De Cecco) and add to the sauce. Add the torn basil leaves at this point, if using. Taste for seasoning and add some extra salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Serve in deep bowls with a generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Thai Beef Salad

Thai food is very special. I love that perfect combination of hot, sour, sweet and salty. This salad is a perfect example of how those flavours work together. The secret of this dish is to use good quality beef fillet and plenty of fresh herbs. Also, the fried peanut garnish provides not only a great taste but another contrasting texture. Try this, it’s excellent!


Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • finely chopped coriander
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
  • 1 tsp sugar

Salad Ingredients

  • 300g beef fillet
  • sesame oil
  • fresh coriander and mint
  • mixed salad leaves, enough for 4 people
  • ½ cucumber
  • 8 small tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • fried peanuts, coarsely chopped


  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients and leave to stand.
  2. Brush the beef fillet with sesame oil, season and grill for about 3 minutes each side. Meat should be rare/medium-rare. Let the meat rest while you prepare the salad.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients and divide between 4 plates. Slice the beef as thinly as possible, then lay on top of the salad. Pour the dressing over each salad and serve.
  4. Garnish with the fried peanuts.

Serves 4.

The Perfect Steak

Beef Rib-Eye

I’ve eaten beef all over the world and nothing comes close to good Irish beef; it’s the best. I recall tucking into a chateaubriand in Spain a couple of years ago and I couldn’t get over the fact that despite the fancy cut and that I had perfectly seasoned and cooked it table-side on a hot stone, the flavour wasn’t a patch on anything I could get at home.

I’m sure everyone has their own way to cook what they think is the perfect steak. Here’s my 8-point, foolproof guide to steak heaven.

  1. Buy good meat. A little obvious this, but try to ensure your meat is from a good source. Buy from a reputable butcher and ensure the beef has been hung for at least 21 days. My favourite cuts are fillet and rib-eye. I like the decadence of fillet, the fact that you can buy it really thick. I like it about 2-3 inches, cooked rare. Sometimes I prefer rib-eye, vastly superior to fillet in terms of flavour, but not as lean or as tender. If you’ve never tried rib-eye before, do give it a try.
  2. Use a cast-iron grill pan. This is one of my favourite pieces of kitchen kit. Those ridges on the grill pan are not there for show. They give the steak an appetising ridged look, but they caramelise the sugars on the outside of the meat giving a deep flavour. Make sure your grill pan is absolutely smoking hot before adding any food.
  3. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Opinions are divided on whether to salt your steak before or after grilling. Some people say that salting before cooking draws out the juices. I’m not sure I subscribe to this. Provided you’re not cooking your steak to “well-done”, salting before grilling helps to give you that crusty, savoury outside and a juicy centre.
  4. Oil the steak, not the pan. When grilling anything, it’s important to oil the food, not the pan itself. This helps to give you the all-important charred effect.
  5. Turn only once. Grill on one side, then turn and grill on the other. You should try to move the meat only once during cooking. If you’re constantly moving or turning the meat you risk losing precious juices.
  6. Don’t overcook. My own personal preference is for medium-rare, as I like a warm centre. If you’re a member of the “well-done” brigade, you can get your coat and leave. 😉
  7. Rest the meat. This step is often overlooked, but it’s very important. Resting allows the juices to be distributed back into the centre of your steak. It also allows the meat to relax, making it a lot more tender.
  8. Serve with some simple accompaniments which allow the flavour of the meat to shine. I like some silky, buttery mash and some steamed greens – broccoli, asparagus and green beans are all good. Some good bread would not go astray.  I like to accompany this with a robust red wine such as a Barolo or Bordeaux.

Red Onion Marmalade

Steak Sandwich with Red Onion Marmalade

Heat a large knob of butter in a saucepan, add a little oil to prevent it burning. Finely slice 2 red onions and fry hard for a couple of minutes. Add 1 tbsp of dark muscovado sugar along with 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Stir to coat the onions and reduce the heat as low as you can. Put the lid on the pot and cook very gently for 30 minutes. The onions should be dark, sticky and melting. Season with a little salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Serve on a good steak sandwich, along with some rocket leaves and a blob of mayo. Great for the summer.

Serves 2.

Shepherd’s Pie

All of us food bores know that real shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb. If it’s made with beef, it’s cottage pie. According to the ever-reliable (!) Wikipedia, the term “cottage pie” has been around since 1791, where leftover beef would be used by the poor cottage-dwellers as a pie filling. “Shepherds pie” came along about a hundred years later, as a cheekily-named lamb equivalent.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with minced lamb left over from a roast. The pie in these pictures comprises not only the leftover lamb, but the leftover gravy too; this gives the pie a rich and deep flavour. I’d go so far as saying it’s worth roasting lamb joint just to make this pie!


  • 500g minced lamb, leftover if possible
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 250ml beef stock, or leftover gravy topped up with water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • 900g potatoes


  1. If you’re using leftover lamb, chop it finely rather than mincing it. This ensures there’s a bit of texture in the finished dish. Heat a little olive in a pan and brown the lamb and onion. Add the carrot and celery and fry for a minute more.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the potatoes) and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes.
  3. While the lamb filling cooks, pre-heat the oven to 200°C and prepare your spuds. Boil the potatoes until tender, then mash with a little milk and plenty of butter and seasoning. You could also add an egg yolk which will enrich the mash and give it a great golden colour while it browns.
  4. Transfer the lamb mixture to an oven-proof pie dish. Spread the mash on top and use a fork to make a rough surface. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until the pie is golden brown. Serve with some piccalilli or some buttered peas.

Shepherd's Pie #2


  • Roast Lamb – Add 2 minced garlic cloves, a teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary and a glass of red wine while you’re frying the lamb. Serve with minted peas on the side. All the flavours of a classic lamb roast in one dish.
  • Cottage Pie – Substitute the lamb for beef and add a small bottle of stout and reduce. Some finely chopped thyme would be a nice addition to this also.

Serves 4.

Beef & Bean Chili

Most of the credit for this “Beef & Bean Chili” recipe goes to the wife. I’ve added some nice ‘extras’ such as the oregano and chipotle, but it’s essentially her recipe. Go all out, serve with rice, sour cream, salsa, chips, wraps and a few beers. It’s really, really, really good.

Beef & Bean Chili


  • 900g good-quality minced beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium courgette, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tbsp dried chilli flakes (depending on your tolerance)
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle chilli pepper
  • 5 tbsp tomato ketchup (Chef is perfect for this)
  • 5g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids)
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 5 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
  • 2 x 400g canned tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g cans kidney beans
  • 2 x 400g can black-eye beans


  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot or casserole. Add the onions and fry until starting to colour. Add the garlic, minced beef and a little salt. Fry hard to get some colour on the meat.
  2. Add the vegetables, chilli flakes, cumin, coriander, chipotle and fry for a minute or two.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the black-eye beans, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Add the black-eye beans 5 minutes before the end, as the tend to break up more easily. Season with salt if necessary and some freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 6-8.


  • Tomato ketchup might seem like an unlikely addition to a good chilli, but it really does work. It’s the perfect mixture sweet, sour and spice and gives a great depth to the dish. My personal preference is for Chef over Heinz.
  • You could substitute a teaspoon of cocoa powder for the dark chocolate. Again, this gives the chilli a deep, rich taste.
  • I use kidney beans here out of habit more than anything, but you could use any robust bean: chickpeas, pinto beans etc.
  • The ground chipotle powder is optional here because it’s not that easy to come by. It gives a great smoky flavour. I’ve previously substituted this with about 200g of finely chopped chorizo, which is a great alternative.
  • This dish is excellent if it’s eaten the day after it’s cooked. It also freezes extremely well.
  • Sometime I like to make my “Devil’s Breath” version, adding a tablespoon of “Chipotle in Adobo”, along with 2 teaspoons of “Habanero Hot Sauce”. You can use any brand you wish, but I use the products from the Cool Chile Co.

Pimp my Whopper(!)

According to the Irish Indo (yes, I know it’s gone to the dogs ...) Burger King are selling a “pimped” version of the iconic Whopper called, wait for it, “The Burger“. The said sandwich comprises a patty of wagyu beef and is served with white truffles, Cristal champagne onions straws all in a saffron bun. Wagyu beef or not, I’m guessing you’ll still feel queasy afterwards, this being BK. Full story here. (requires registration)

A quick google shows that food bloggers the world over are going crazy about this one!!