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