Saturday, 25 December 2010

Cook once, Eat Twice: Beef

I  grew up with a healthy appreciation for leftovers.  My father has an impressive collection of Tupperware, Rubbermaid, and margarine tubs.  I go more for a mixture of ice cream tubs and Lock-n-Lock.  I have also fallen in love with these pyrex glass baking dishes which come with plastic lids.  I fill them with macaroni and cheese, shepherd's pie, and chicken casseroles, then pop them in the freezer.  When I get home from work I can take one out and stick it in the oven for half an hour (plastic lid off of course).  My mother has some which have a glass lid and a plastic lid.  I can't find them in the UK, but continue to look.  They are also great for brownies and marshmallow crispy treats.


I love to cook once and use the ingredients for several meals.  I especially like it when I can use the ingredients and make new meals, not just reheating my roast dinner.  I am always on the search for ideas on how to spread my Sunday roast dinner over a few days.  It saves time and money.  Yesterday silverside beef joints were half price, which is even better!!

Roast Beef and Cottage Pie

Since I am starting with silverside, which is a leaner roast, I prefer to slow roast or braise it in the lower AGA (or low oven) for most of the day.  If I had a nice roast I would rub it all over with ground allspice and roast it at high heat as normal.

Back to my braise. I have a 2 kg joint which I coat in flour and fry to brown on all sides.  Remove the roast from the pan. 

Add to the pan: (the amounts are optional based on what you have lying around)
sliced onions
sliced carrot (and other root veg if you have any)
two beef stock cubes or beef stock
fried onions or dried French onion soup mix (optional)
bay leaf
ground allspice (or any other spices you prefer---garam masala, cardamom, turmeric, and chillis work well)

Stir and place the joint on top.  Add enough boiled water to come halfway up the side of the meat.  Bring to a boil and cook covered for an hour on the stovetop or in the top roasting oven of the AGA.  Most recipes for slow cooking will skip this step.  I find the meat is not cooked through unless I do this.  But you could try to put it straight into the low temperature oven from the boil.

Move to the bottom oven or a low oven and cook for 4-6 hours at 150C/300F/Gas 2.  I check on this occasionally, especially since it is a large joint.  It may need a longer cooking time.  You can cook this at a higher temperature for a shorter time.  The theory is that the meat will be be more moist and tender if you cook it slowly over the day.  We really do whichever one is more convenient on the day.


Carrots and broccoli:

You will need enough carrots for two meals now.  And enough broccoli for one meal.  (I prefer peas in the cottage pie, which I will get to later).

Slice carrots and place in the bottom of the saucepan.  Just cover with cold water.  Cut up fresh broccoli and place on top of carrots.  Cover with lid.  When cooking, the carrots will boil and the broccoli will steam.  Cooking them together saves the washing up and space on the stovetop.

Mashed Potatoes:

You will need enough for 2-3 meals.  Peel and cut potatoes into chunks.  Boil in water until cooked through.  Drain well.  Add pepper, butter, milk and a bit of salt.  (You can use sour cream or cream cheese or grated cheddar if you like.)  Mash.  Serve some with your dinner and leave the rest to cool down.

Peas (for pie):  I take a large mug, fill it with frozen petit pois and some hot water from the kettle.  Pop in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.  Drain. 

Yorkshire Pudding

OK, so I cheat and buy them half the time.   If I am roasting things in the AGA and using it to make veg, etc, the temperature drops too low to make a decent job of it.   The AGA also cooks everything unevenly.  I need to turn things around halfway through cooking to prevent burning.  And you aren't meant to open the door when you make Yorkshire pudding.  Even after nearly ten years I still haven't quite got the hang of the AGA.  When I have a regular oven I promise faithfully to make my own.  Otherwise any standard recipe will do.  I have never in my life had any Yorkshire Puddings which could compare to my Aunt Kate's.  She uses the beef dripping of course.  (She is the only person I know who can also make delicious brussel sprouts).  There is a farm shop near us which have really nice ones also with beef dripping.  Or I use Aunt Bessie's. 


You can make a nice gravy simply by using the cooking liquid from the braised meat.

You will need some of it for the pie later as well. 

When the meat is cooked through you can remove it from the pot and serve with carrots, broccoli, mash, Yorkshires, and gravy.

Cottage pie

Slice up the leftover meat and chop into small pieces.  Layer on the bottom of one or two glass baking dishes.  (Since I have started with a large joint and I am only feeding three people today, I can make two pies).  Drip some of the cooking liquid or gravy over the meat.  Next add a layer of peas and then one of carrots.  Spread mashed potato on top.  Making sure the pie is cool, you can now seal it with its lid, or with plastic wrap and then foil.  Place in the freezer or fridge if you want this the next day. 

To reheat, place in the oven for 20-30 minutes for the refirgerated one and 30-40 minutes for the frozen one.  Make sure that the centre is piping hot before serving! 

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