I've been wanting to do a nice rich red-wine pot-roast
in my slow cooker for a while.
When my butcher offered me a whole monster
veal shank for £25 I jumped at it.
Despite his scepticism about my choice of wine colour (Osso Buco is more properly braised in white wine)
the more I admired the glorious meat, the more I convinced myself it would take a good red wine.
It was a surprisingly hefty joint - weighing in around 3kg, and the flesh quite rich and dark,
so I'm guessing it was an older calf than that usually used for Italian ossobuco but ideal for taking the stronger flavour of red wine.
Which is handy because I happened to have several leftover bottles lying around begging to be used up.
Aidan and Jude very kindly came over to help out with eating some of my black pudding
(this time some of the baked loaf
version I'd cut into sections and frozen)
and to lend a hand with the monster
shank. Lucky for me or I'd be dying of rosso buco poisoning about now.
They also made handy guinea pigs for my latest ice cream innovation -
avocado and chocolate flavour
Apart from the hours of slow-cooking my monster
most of the meal prep work was done the night before
and the remainder was pretty easy to turn out for dinner.
I served the fried homemade black pudding
on a creamy mushroom sauce
with a little strawberry-dressed
mixed leaf salad and some red onion.
Since my monster
cuts of shank were too intimidating to serve individually
I just piled them into a quiche dish and dressed them with the strained cooking liquor
for the guests to help themselves.
They seemed well satisfied :)
Though I think they approached dessert with some justifiable trepidation
(memories of my crab ice cream
still too raw for comfort)
they seemed pleasantly surprised by the result.
I'm not sure it's actually better than plain old chocolate, but it's certainly not worse.
Plus you get to watch your guests faces when you tell them it's avocado and chocolate flavour
And you can't put a price on that!
A decent mushroom sauce always takes more mushrooms than you expect, so buy extra.
You can add garlic to the frying mushrooms, and finish the sauce with herbs such as parsley or a grating of Parmesan if you like.
You could also substitute sour cream for the double.
- a dozen button mushrooms
- olive oil
- 100ml-200ml double cream
- glass white wine
Cut 8 of the mushrooms into ½" cubes, and slice the others about the thickness of a pound coin.
Warm the double cream in a small saucepan, meanwhile in a hot frying pan fry the mushroom cubes in a mixture of butter and olive oil.
Keep them moving and keep them hot so they fry and brown rather than just steaming in their own juices.
De-glaze the pan with white wine and stir into the cream.
Simmer the cream to reduce and thicken a little. Season.
Re-grease the pan and fry the mushroom slices until browned.
Drain on kitchen roll.
Use the slices to garnish the sauce, or stir them through for a more attractive appearance.
Fried Herb Polenta
If you're going to make polenta to cut up and fry you want it to be quite thick - perhaps 3:1 liquid:polenta,
otherwise you can use 5:1 for a looser consistency.
Choose the grade of cornmeal you prefer - fine will produce a soft, thin polenta. Coarse a more textured, flavourful result.
You can either bake the polenta, as I have, and leave it to cool in the baking tin before turning out and cutting up for frying,
or you can cook it, stirring regularly, in the pan for 45 minutes, then mix with the flavouring ingredients and pour into the baking tin to set.
- 150g/180ml polenta/cornmeal
- 1-2 tblsps herbs (thyme/parsley/chives/sage)
- ½ tsp salt
- 20g-50g butter
- 25g-50g parmesan
- 150ml milk
- 600ml water
- oil for frying
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Thoroughly butter a small loaf tin or oven dish .
Chop the herbs of your choice .
Bring the milk, water and salt to boil in a large pot.
Measure out the cornmeal and set it in a jug to hand, then stream it gradually into the water through your fingers as you whisk continuously.
Keep whisking for a minute or two until the polenta thickens.
Mix the butter and herbs into the polenta and pour out into the buttered loaf tin.
Cover with buttered greaseproof paper and bake for an hour.
Leave the polenta to cool , then turn out onto a rack.
When you're ready to eat, cut the polenta loaf into fat slices
and heat about half an inch of sunflower oil (or other neutral oil) in a deep frying pan until very hot.
Fry the slices quickly in a single layer, turning until they take on a golden colour.
Scoop out with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen roll, and serve.
Veal shank slow-cooked in red wine
Rather controversially I used red wine to make my osso buco - and thus rosso buco was born.
The bone used for ossobuco is the shank, which is between the foot bone and the calf's knee,
though their feet are massively longer than ours, so the shank is actually surprisingly far off the ground.
The hind legs are usually preferred for the amount of meat on them.
Get your butcher to leave the skin on which will help to hold them together as they cook.
Mine was a bit of a monster, probably from quite an old calf, so I'm not sure how milk veal would fare,
but I'm sure you could make this with beef shin or any other well-muscled cut.
- 1 veal shin/shank around 2-3kg, cross-cut into sections
- ½ bottle red wine
- cup or two stock
- tomato purée or tomatoes
- head of garlic, halved
- 2 carrots, cubed
- 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 4-6 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
- 2-3 tablespoons flour
- salt & pepper
Have the butcher saw the shank into sections suitable for individual servings
you can reserve the ankle joint for stock.
Chop the vegetables into fairly chunky pieces - around ¾" so they survive the long cooking.
Tie string around each bone section so they will hold together as they cook otherwise the meat will fall completely away from the bones.
Coat them lightly with flour by sifting some onto a plate and rolling the pieces in it.
Heat a little rendered beef fat to very hot in a large cast-iron pot
and brown the sections nicely all over turning them with a pair of tongs. Don't overfill the pan, and as each piece is done,
set it aside in the slow cooker.
Once all the meat is done, throw in the carrots and start them frying, then the onions until they begin to colour,
then the celery just to coat. Add to the slow cooker.
De-glaze the pan with red wine, add some stock
and bubble them up until they reduce to about half.
You'll need enough reduced liquid to almost cover the meat.
Season lightly and add to the slow cooker.
Throw in a rosemary sprig and the leaves stripped from a few thyme sprigs.
Turn the slow cooker on low and cook until the meat is tender enough to pull away from the bones and shred with a fork.
It will taste best if you leave it in a cool place for a couple of days for the flavours to meld then reheat it to serve on the day.
It's also easier to manage the timing if you know the meat is already properly cooked.
My slow cooker took almost 3 hours on high to completely re-heat the meat though - so be sure to start in good time.
To serve, lift the meat pieces into warmed serving dishes, cleaning them of any clumps of vegetables.
Strain the liquid into a pan and reduce until it makes a satisfactory sauce,
pour over the meat,
dress with gremolata and hand out to your eager guests.
A parsley/lemon/garlic dressing
veg vegan sauce
Quite tasty as a condiment for rosso buco
and also good as a dressing on blanched sugar snap peas or green beans.
Just a head's up though - it turns out you can
have too much garlic.
- Zest of one large lemon or 1 lemon & 1 small orange
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- 2 Tblsps finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
Crush the garlic with a little salt with the side of chef's knife.
Finely grate the lemon or orange peel, peel into strips and finely chop.
Chop the parsley reasonably finely.
Mix with the olive oil and a grinding of pepper.
Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes about 1 litre
Note American cups. I presume. The original chocolate-only ice cream recipe is taken from American pastry chef David Lebovitz'
The Perfect Scoop
And it talks of quarts and heavy
Which is an odd thing really - because being fattier you would think that heavy
cream would actually be lighter.
It was my sometime flatmate Andy who first inspired in me the idea for this ice cream when he lovingly desribed the smooth creaminess of the
avocado chocolate smoothies
he'd been served in one or other of those South American hell-holes he's wont to frequent.
This is my first attempt.
- 2 U.S. cups/480ml heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 5 ounces/150g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 U.S. cup/240ml whole milk
- ¾ U.S. cup/240ml/150g/5 oz cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 vanilla pod, cut in half
- 1 (250g) ripe avocado
Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.
Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
Warm the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla pod in the same saucepan and simmer gently to infuse.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk.
Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir,
until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (80°C/17°F on an instant-read thermometer).
Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth.
Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly overnight in the fridge or for 2-3 hour in the freezer.
Peel and de-stone your ripe avocado
cleaning away any brown or hard spots.
Press the flesh through a sieve into the ice cream mixture and mix in thoroughly.
Now freeze the mix in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
(If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)
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