Now that the season is changing, with leaves falling and days getting shorter, we often begin to think more about slow cooking. Which of course is a majestic and simple way to eat. Easy, efficient and delicious. Wonderful. However, out of all the braising cuts available, shin of beef is perhaps one of the more underrated cuts out there. For warming stews and winter casseroles, cuts like short rib, ox cheek and chuck tend to leapfrog ahead as meats of choice and even silverside often gets a shoo-in first. Especially for Cockney-types who have fond memories of boiled beef and carrots.
Or 'Boooooiled beeef an' carrraaaaaaats' - as some older specimens like to sing, after a jar too many.
Economical shin however, should always be a consideration. Coming from the forequarter of the cow and often with the bone intact, the immediate bonus when cooking with it is that your dish will be enhanced by beautiful bone marrow. Which, to frank, should be classed as seasoning in itself. But let's come back to the taste of the meat itself for a second. Because the cut comes from a hard working muscle, the general rule is that after a long braise, you will always be rewarded with a richer, more intense depth of flavour. Which is due to the dense formation of fibres and connective fat. As they break down slowly and envelope, the resulting texture is often nothing short of melting.
So, no basting required, as Phil Collins once sang. No wait, that was his jacket. Whatever, I can't stand Phil Collins
The added benefit of Richard's recipe is the addition of other flavours such as bacon, mushrooms and star anise. By the upping the savoury quota and delivering hints of aniseed, it all amounts to balmy, cosseting smack to the chops. Perfect for when it is cold outside then and you need to heat up fast.
Add into the mix macaroni, simmered in the stock and liberally dusted with Parmesan; well, suddenly, everything becomes a no-brainer. In fact, after eating this, you'll be wondering why you left it so long to try out shin of beef in the first place.
Danny Kingston - Content Editor
- Cover the meat, vegetables, faggot of herbs and spice bag in the wine and refrigerate overnight (or as long as possible).
- Drain the liquid into a large, oven safe pan or dutch oven and reduce by half over a medium heat. Add the stock and reduce to a simmer.
- Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
- Dust the meat in the seasoned flour, heat the dripping in a pan and brown the joint on all sides. Place the joint into the simmering stock.
- Next, fry the onions (add some more dripping if necessary) until softened (about 10 mins). Add the bacon and cook for another few mins. Add the rest of the vegetables and fry stirring constantly for another 5-6 mins or until the carrots, onions and mushrooms have a nice colour.
- Add the vegetables, bacon, herb faggot and spice bag to the stock with the shin, cover and place in the oven.
- After 2 hours, check for tenderness. If the joint is still firm, put back for another 20 mins and check again.
- Remove from the oven, drain the liquid and reduce the stock in a pan, skimming the surface constantly for about 30 mins.
- Pour the stock back over the meat through muslin or a sieve, season if necessary and bring back to a simmer.
- Add the macaroni and cook for another 15 mins or until the macaroni is cooked.
- Sprinkle with the parmesan and place under a hot grill until golden.
- Carve the meat roughly into portions and serve in warm bowls with crusty bread.