Braised Shin of Beef with Button Onions and Mushrooms
Portion/Yield:Serves 10–12 as a main course
This is one of my all-time favourite ways of cooking shin of beef. The flavour is simply the best – it’s intense and beefy and the natural abundance of gelatine in the shin of beef gives it that lip-smacking deliciousness.
Shin of beef needs to be cooked low and slow for a long period of time to make it tender and tasty. I learned a version of this recipe when I worked at Aubergine nearly 20 years ago (gosh, I feel old!), and I loved it then and I still love it today. It was served in a two Michelin-starred restaurant on the menu du jour. If it was good enough for two stars, it’s certainly good enough for me!
It’s quite a time-consuming recipe and requires a few stages, but in my opinion it’s definitely worth every ounce of effort. I make this a couple of days in advance and then serve it for a dinner party (you’ll need to start this at least one day in advance of serving). Braising the meat is fantastic as you get a ready-made sauce to serve with it, so for me, creamy mash is a must for ultimate enjoyment!
Ingredients & Method
- 50ml sunflower oil, plus a little extra for frying the chilled beef slices
- 2.5kg beef shin, bone removed, tied back together with kitchen string
- 2 carrots, roughly diced
- 1 large onion, roughly diced
- 2 sticks celery, roughly diced
- 1 leek, washed and roughly diced
- ½ bulb garlic (bulb cut in half horizontally)
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 black peppercorns
- 200ml ruby port
- 2 litres brown chicken stock
- 1 litre veal stock
- 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed soft herbs (such as chervil, chives and parsley)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 30 button onions, blanched and peeled (see Cook’s Note)
- 200g mixed wild mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- creamy mashed potato
- purple (or orange) carrots, cut in half lengthways and cooked (preferably boiled in salted water)
Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2. Heat half of the oil in a large, non-stick ovenproof saucepan over a medium heat until hot. Season the beef shin with salt and pepper and then add it to the pan and cook until golden brown all over, turning it regularly. Remove the browned meat from the pan to a plate and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan, along with the carrots, onion, celery, leek, garlic, thyme and spices and sauté over a high heat for 8–10 minutes or until the vegetables are dark brown. Return the meat to the pan, then add the port and both stocks. Bring to a gentle bubble over a medium heat, then place a cartouche (a circle of greaseproof paper) on the surface, and then cover the pan with a lid. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 3 hours, until the meat is cooked and tender.
Remove from the oven, remove the meat from the sauce to a plate and set aside to cool. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean pan and discard the solids. Return the sauce to the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer and reduce over a medium heat, until the sauce is glossy and thickened, skimming regularly to remove impurities. Remove from the heat.
Once the meat is cool enough to handle, flake the meat, discarding any sinew and fat. Mix the cooked meat with the mustard and chopped herbs in a bowl, then stir in a few ladlefuls of the reduced sauce – this will help the meat to stick together, but do not add too much (reserve the rest of the sauce and keep it in the fridge until required). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Tear off 4 quite large pieces of cling film and layer them one on top of the other on the work surface. Repeat this with another 4 pieces of cling film, layering them separately, so you end up with two sets of layered cling film pieces. Divide the beef mixture in half, then place each portion on top of a layered cling film ‘stack’. For each portion, mould the meat mixture into a large even sausage shape, about 5cm diameter. Roll the cling film tightly around each meat ‘sausage’, folding in the ends as you roll, then transfer both ‘sausages’ to the fridge and leave to cool and set for a minimum of 12 hours (you must roll the cling film tightly around the meat mixture and chill it well, otherwise the mixture will be fragile and your pieces of meat will fall apart).
When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Cut the beef sausage into thick, even slices, keeping the cling film on (each slice is one portion). Heat a little extra oil (about 1 tablespoon) in a non-stick frying pan, place the beef slices (with the cling film left on) into the warm pan and brown on both sides, then transfer to the prepared baking tray and cook in the oven for about 8 minutes or until heated all the way through. Remove the cling film just before serving.
Meanwhile, return the frying pan to the heat, add the butter, blanched button onions, mushrooms and some salt and pepper and sauté for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown. Add the reserved sauce and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
Serve the beef slices on warm plates with creamy mashed potato and cooked purple carrots alongside. Divide the button onions and mushrooms with the sauce between the plates, then serve immediately.
Blanch the button onions (with their skins on) in boiling water first, then drain before peeling – this makes it much easier to peel them.