TONY STAPLES: Create a dinner full of flavour with an excellent yet overlooked cut of meat

New potatoes cut like this will absorb flavours better
New potatoes cut like this will absorb flavours better

A little time and effort can turn an economical cut of meat and the humble potato into a dinner masterpiece. Tony Staples explains how.

If you’re feeding friends at the weekend or planning a big get together for Easter, don’t be stuck in the kitchen.

Braised shin of beef with herb roasted new potatoes

Braised shin of beef with herb roasted new potatoes

The beauty of this tasty dish of braised shin of beef, with new potatoes, is all the hard work can be done the day before.

Shin of beef is a much overlooked, but cheaper cut of meat which is full of flavour. It needs long, slow cooking, with plenty of herbs and stock.

For this dish, the meat is then shredded and combined with a rich, sticky reduction of Port and Madeira.

The potatoes are also given star treatment. They are peeled and then sliced several times, almost through with a sharp knife, so they have the best chance of absorbing the flavours of the stock, butter and herbs they are roasted in.

Yes, they are a little fiddly to prepare, but it just takes patience, a sharp knife and a steady hand.

And when you serve this dish up to your guests the next day in less than 20 minutes, all that hard work will be worth every mouthful.

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Braised Shin of Beef with Herb Roasted New Potatoes (serves 6)

2 kgs of beef shin

2-3 litres of beef stock

2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks,

2 sticks of celery, sliced into chunks

1 clove of garlic, peeled

2 large sprigs of rosemary.

285mls Port

285mls Madeira

500g bag new potatoes peeled and cut into 6cm chunks

100g butter

large sprig of rosemary

large sprig of fresh thyme.

500ml hot chicken stock.

Method

Place the shin of beef into a large, deep dish or casserole, and pour over the stock so it covers the meat.

Add the carrots, celery, garlic and rosemary, and cover with foil or a lid. Place in an oven, 140oC, for 6-8 hours – until the meat falls apart. Cooking time will depend on thickness of cut and the oven.

Leave to cool slightly, remove the meat from the liquid, strain the stock and discard the vegetables. Pour the stock into a saucepan, bring to boil and simmer until reduced so it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

In another saucepan, bring the Port and Madeira to the boil and simmer until the liquid is reduced to around 100ml. Mix with 100ml of the reduced beef stock. Using two forks, shred the beef and then stir in enough liquid reduction to bind the meat together. Reserve the remaining reduction in the fridge.

Place a layer of Clingfilm on a work surface and shape the beef into a cylinder, 8cm in diameter. Roll the Clingfilm up tightly around it and place in the fridge. Leave overnight.

For the potatoes: Slice each peeled chunk several times almost, but not completely, through. Melt the butter in a roasting dish on the stove. Add the potatoes, rosemary and thyme. Pour in enough hot chicken stock to half-cover the potatoes. Baste the potatoes and place in a preheated oven, 180oc, for 15 minutes until part-cooked. Leave to cool in the tray and pop in the fridge overnight.

To serve, cut the beef cylinder into large round chunks and place in a roasting tin. Pour over some of the reserved reduction and place in a preheated oven, 180oc, for about 10 minutes until heated through. Remove the potatoes from the cooled buttery sauce and roast for 10-15 minutes at 180oc. Serve the beef and potatoes with vegetables of your choice.

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