I started to learn how to cook professionally as a catering college student over 20 years ago and this dish is one of the first things I made for my family. My auntie Susie and uncle Chris were great to try out new dishes with as they always loved what I made which is a great boost for any young wannabe chef. My dishes then became a bit more 'cheffy' as my confidence grew and I remember making pan fried duck breast with a blueberry sauce which was all the rage in the early 90's. However, my cooking style has matured and I find myself obsessed by simplicity. Slow cooked meat dishes are a particular favourite and I am revelling in the beauty of cuts like brisket, shin and shoulder which to my mind are much more satisfying than their flashier and more expensive butchers slab brethren.
Beef carbonnade with leek and mustard dumplings
The Belgians are little known in the world of gastronomy, overlooked as they are by the French, and this dish is a Low country classic which requires little effort however good quality ingredients and plenty of time are essential. Perfect for a summer in Swansea!
I made this in my slow cooker with a whole piece of brisket but you can use other braising cuts diced up into large chunks and cook it on the hob or in the oven. Low heat and about 6 hours cooking are essential though. By the way if you can make this a day or two in advance then it will even more lovely, in fact it is almost essential, you just have to learn how to cope with delayed gratification.
2kg rolled brisket or shin
2 onions, sliced or diced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, crushed
330ml Belgian beer (leffe is good)
15g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1/2 pint of hot water
herbs such as thyme and rosemary
2 tbspns cornflour mixed with cold water
For the dumplings:
Mix together in a large bowl 150g self raising flour, 150g suet, 1 finely sliced leek, 1 heaped tsp Coleman's English mustard powder, salt and 1 egg. As long as it resembles a dough that is fine and then divide into small balls ready to go in the stew about 15 minutes before the end.
1) In a large frying pan brown the brisket all over and pop it in the slow cooker, add the onions and carrots to the frying pan and brown then chuck them in with the brisket. Pour the beer into the pan and bring to the boil. Now add that to the slow cooker along with the herbs and garlic. Also pour in the porcini mushrooms and its water. Leave on a low heat for about 6 - 7 hours. Cool and refrigerate.
2) Take the whole brisket out of the cold stew and cut up into large chunks and gently heat it all through. Thicken if you like (I like) and season if necessary. Add the dumplings and cook for about 15 minutes.
mmm...Carbonnade of beef