Saucy Beef with White bean mash (serves 4)
I have avoided naming this dish Saucy Sicilian Beef to avoid the recoil that comes with adapting a traditionally British dish and also because really there is nothing Italian about this apart from my 2 secret ingredients: Anchovies and Chilli. ‘Saucy Sicilian’ just has a seductive ring to it! So pour yourself a glass and let’s get into it. This dish is a mix between beef bourguignon and a casserole; it has a zesty twist and lots of veggies, but keeps the good garlic and red wine base…Yum!
I love this dish for 2 reasons, firstly because it is as fresh as it is wholesome and comforting, perfect for a winter dinner or Sunday roast substitute. The keys is to use all fresh ingredients, however along the way I will point out where some corners could be cut if you are time poor, but I do stress the need for fresh produce in this dish. Makes it all the more satisfying!
Secondly, because it is a simple and achievable dish to make irrespective of how much time you have. For those, like myself, who like to be in the kitchen you can slow cook the beef all day, however if your too busy to be home all day (but still want to have the dish slow cooked), prep the dish in the morning and use a slow cooker on low until ready to serve at night. Similarly the beef can be cooked on the stove in as little as 50mins once prep is done, which makes it a good go-to hearty meal.
Canned vs. dried: Honestly I feel the slight extra effort involved with rehydrating your own beans is totally justified in the eating! And if you soak them over night it is just as easy as opening a can. But if you haven’t made the time then using canned beans work too.
FYI: To cook dried beans simply cover beans in plenty of fresh water (no salt or lemon juice as acidity makes the skin hard) and leave to soak overnight (or minimum 5hrs), then your good to drain them and use them as you would canned beans in this recipe. The only difference is the cooking time.
White Bean Mash
375g Cannellini beans or 2 cans of good quality beans
2 eschallots, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 knob of butter, about 20g
The leaves from 1 stalk of thyme, picked but left whole
Water (to cook)
Step 1: Have your beans soaked and ready to go!
Step 2: Sauté eschallots, garlic and thyme in the butter until soft and fragrant
Step 3: Add drained beans (fresh or canned) and increase the heat, sauté until the mixture in the pan is dry.
Step 4: Add enough stock or water to cover the beans and bring pot to the boil, reduce heat to a strong simmer and put the lid on for 45min, you may have to add extra water so keep an eye on it. (If using canned beans this step should only take 15min at most, once liquid has absorbed then proceed to next step)
Step 5: Mash you beans and season to taste, an extra knob of butter can be added at this point if it is to your taste, I however prefer to preserve the flavour of the beans by not adding it.
Saucy Beef (15min prep: 40min-all day slow cook)
400g beef blade steak, or beef offcuts, cut into 2cm cubes
3tbs plain flour, well-seasoned with salt and pepper
½ red chilli, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
3 anchovies fillet*, roughly chopped
3 carrots, cut length ways then into 1.5cm lengths
3 celery stalks, cut similar size to carrot
8 whole eschallots**, peeled
16 small button mushrooms, left oh’ natural
6-8 tomatoes***, halved then sliced into slithers
Olive oil, 4tbs
1 each sprig of thyme and rosemary
Bottle of red, some for the recipe some for the chef!
*Fresh pickled anchovies are preferable and can be easily found at your local fishmonger otherwise canned anchovies
** If you can get small eschallots leave them whole, but if they are large simply cut them in half at the middle
*** I use organic tomatoes which are a bit smaller so I need 8 for this recipe however if your using large truss tomatoes 6 should do. Also make sure you DON’T lose any of the seeds or juice…that’s the good stuff. Alternately a large can of diced tomatoes can be used but honestly it’s not hard to chop tomatoes!! Fresh is best.
Step 1: Sauté (low heat) chilli, garlic and anchovies until fragrant…do not let the garlic go brown, the idea is to get all these flavours to combine not fry them.
Step 2: Dice beef and coat well in the seasoned flour.
Step 3: Throw all the vegetables into the pot (carrot, celery, mushroom & eschallots) and stir to cover with the salty-garlicy-spicy paste in the pot. At the same time heat oil in a fry-pan and fry the beef until golden brown. (Be wary not to overcook, this will make the beef tough once stewing)
Step 4: Stir the beef into the vegetable pot, increase the heat and keep the mixture moving.
Step 5: Once the juices from the beef have cooked off, drown the beef and veggies with a good splash of red wine (approx. 1½-2 cups) and let that bubble away for about 1 min.
Step 6: Stir in all the diced tomatoes, mixing until it starts to come to a boil.
Step 7: Here is where you make your choice: slow cook vs. stove top. If you are going to slow cook, move the mixture to your slow cooker or cast iron pot and put on low for 4-5hrs (or longer if its move convenient) . If you want ‘speedy’ delivery put the lid on the pot and leave it to simmer on medium (lightly bubbling) for about 40min…but make sure the lid is tight.
Step 8: One last thing, place a sprig each of thyme and rosemary on top of the beef before the lid goes on, this is crucial!
Serve the White Bean Mash and Saucy Beef together with a good glass of wine and great company xx