Happily no-one in the challenge has been chopped yet – but I still feel incredibly lucky to be in the competition ūüôā

 

At first, this week’s challenge looked starkingly simple.¬† Who wouldn’t make a stew and dumplings when given beef shin, a Knorr Stock Pot and beef suet to work with?¬† The room for playing came in the form of a PnP soup mix.¬† As easy as it would be to throw all the ingredients of the pack into the stew and come out with something delicious, I wanted to have something more on the plate than a hearty stew.¬† It had never occured to me to buy the soup mix and use it for anything else than my nourishing whole free-range chicken soup.¬† Being challenged to using it in a new and creative way has opened up a world of possibilities – especially for someone like me who, most of the time,¬†cooks for just¬†one and a¬†half¬†at home.

 

Cubing the meat increases the surface area to brown, creating extra flavour and bits to deglaze off the pan.¬† Beef shin is a cut of meat that magically transforms when it is slow cooked with a flavourful liquid.¬† Now, I am not (and never have been or will be) the type of cook to spend hours making stock from scratch.¬† I usually use a fabulous fond selection from one of my favourite South African brands (we won’t say much more about that at this time).¬† However, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to discover the Knorr Stock Pot range.¬† Apart from being very¬†reasonably priced, the flavour and ease of use is fantastic.¬† I’m now willing to divide my brand loyalty between two stock¬†suppliers.

 

Long slow cooking is the name of the game here.¬† That still didn’t entice me to finish unpacking into my new home while the stew bubbled gently away… at the time of writing there are still a number of boxes to be unpacked.¬† The kitchen is in place, and that’s what counts.¬† I’m also short of bookshelf space for my obsessive cookery book collection.¬† I always use 2 pans to brown my meat in, the process goes faster and when you deglaze one pan, you can keep the meat warm in the other one.¬† After you’ve deglazed the second pan, you can use it to cook the vegetables in.¬† Give it a quick wipe if you don’t want your vegetables to colour.¬† I slow cooked my vegetables in a Knorr Vegetable Stock Pot dissolved in boiling water, which flavoured the resulting pure√© beautifully.

 

Using the PnP Soup Mix in a unique way, I managed to involve it in the¬†3 different elements on the plate.¬† I finely chopped the leek, celery and turnip and added that to the¬† braising liquid as a mirepoix for flavour.¬† I used the parsley for garnish and chopped it for the steamed parsley dumplings.¬† And I used the two carrots and the potato to make a pure√©, adding a bit of candied orange peel for a crisp sour burst.¬† The result – a perfectly balanced winter warmer meal… Meaty Moments are perfect in this chilly weather!

 

You can get the full recipe for my Star Anise¬†Infused Braised Beef and Medjool Dates with Steamed Parsley Dumplings¬†on the Freshly Blogged website.¬† Please also join my Facebook group to receive updates on my future recipe submissions… remember you voting will keep me in the game!!