Lois’ slow-cooked beef with carrots, garlic and lemon is perfect for a winter weekend. Late afternoon, when the sun is starting to lower, start braising the beef and carrots and gently softening the onions and garlic. From there it’s basically a matter of putting the dish into a low oven for an hour and half, while you read a book or devour another episode of that television series that you can’t stop watching. Back to the kitchen for some final stages and then for dinner that night you’ll be enjoying one of the cosiest winter meals I can imagine.
Slow-cooked beef, carrots, garlic & lemon (adapted from Lois Daish, Dinner at Home, p.71)
750g beef blade steak
6 medium carrots
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
fresh thyme, leaves pulled from stem
fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
3 medium-large floury potatoes, such as agria
grated zest and juice of two lemons
chopped flat leaf parsley and zest of one lemon to finish
Preheat oven to 140°C. Trim any fat or silverskin from the meat, but leave in place any seams of gristle in the meat, as these will soften during cooking. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and cut into large chunks. Peel the carrots and cut into pieces of a similar size to the meat. Heat enough oil to coat to the bottom of a large frying pan and brown the meat; it’s probably best to do this in two batches so that you don’t crowd the pan). Brown the meat on at least two sides and remove from pan and put on a plate. Add the carrots to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and again.
While the meat and carrots are browning, take a lidded casserole dish that can be used both on the stove top and in the oven and add the oil and butter and heat over a low-medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir until the onion is soft. Add thyme, parsley and flour and continue to stir until the flour starts to colour. Pour in the stock and lemon juice and grate in the lemon zest, followed by the carrots and browned meat. Pour a little water into the frying pan and return it to the heat and scrape up any sticky bits left in the pan. Add this to the casserole. The meat and carrots should be almost covered by the stock and pan juices. Place the lid on the dish, bring to the boil and transfer into the pre-heated oven for about one and half hours.
After this time has passed, take the casserole out of the oven and place back onto the stove top. Bring to the boil and lower to a steady simmer to reduce the liquid while stirring regularly. Peel the potatoes, chop into 2cm chunks and place in a medium-sized pot of cold water. Bring to the boil, cook until tender and then drain.
Once the slow-cooked beef liquid has reduced and thickened slightly, add the potatoes and turn off the heat. Allow the slow-cooked beef to sit for about ten minutes; this will give the meat time to relax and soak up some more of the delicious sauce. Meanwhile, sauté some greens (such as cavolo nero with fennel seeds) and warm up some bowls in the oven. Just before serving, sprinkle the slow-cooked beef with the chopped parsley and lemon zest.