Where’s the beef? Two ways to cook beef

Two quite different warming winter stews, one with mushrooms, ale and cheese, the other accompanied by pommes duchesse

 

VANESSA’S WAY . . . BEEF STEW WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, ALE, AND CHEESY DUMPLINGS

The first dates my stepmother pencils into a new calendar are the international rugby fixtures, signalling the pampering of her brothers on their annual pilgrimage to Lansdowne Road.

Preparations revolve around a super-sized melt-in-the mouth beef stew, which curiously disappears overnight. If you’re cooking for a crowd, when you treble the ingredients for a stew, don’t treble the liquid, simply add enough liquid to cover the meat.

Serve your stew with horseradish mash to create a sumptuous meal. The cheesy dumplings are pure comfort food. For a sweeter stew, add a spoonful of redcurrant jelly.

GARY’S WAY . . . BEEF ESPAGNOLE

Having a dinner to come home to straight after school is one of my fondest memories as a child. I was grateful then and I’m grateful now to have had my mother or father greeting us as we landed in the door, usually starving.

My brothers as well as my sister and I always seemed to be hungry. We could pretty much guess what dinner we’d be having on any given day. Monday always seemed to be stew day. Especially in the autumn or winter seasons.

My brother Pearse had another name on it, studies (stuu-dees). I am not sure where the name came from, but that’s what we called it in Ramelton.

“What’s for dinner mammy?”, “A feed o’ studies” came the reply. “Deadly” says all of us.

My mother never used tomatoes in hers, but, like with everything else, I’ve added my own wee bits through the years, including the fancy duchesse potatoes.

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