Beef, Bacon and Mushroom Ragu

This is simmering in my oven right now, filling my house with the smell of a rich meaty, winey, herby aroma.  It is a freezing day here, snow is forecast for the hills and I’m here trying to keep my power bill at a minimum and yet be comfortably warm.  At 4.30 in the afternoon the curtains are pulled and Radio New Zealand National blaring away with the Panel on, today featuring Rosemary McLeod who I think is wonderful.  I have a friend coming for dinner and we are going to have this casserole (or ragu) with some spinach salad and foccacia.  Desert will be lemony because I am still dealing with the lemon glut.  The quince paste glut will be slightly dealt to in the casserole as I will add it instead of the Redcurrent jelly I am supposed to add.

Recipe is from Dinner in a Basket by Judith Cullen.  I make lots of the dishes in this book.  Judith is a Dunedin institution.  She runs cooking classes from her house which are great fun and you get to eat the food at the end.  A great thing to do for an evening out.  I have tinkered with Judith’s recipe for tonight a little.  I’ll tell you how as we go.

2kg beef (shinbeef with bone removed or cross-cut blade – I used chuck and less than 2 kg, you decide)

250g thick sliced bacon diced

2 onions diced or 10 pickling onions

250 g mushrooms sliced or halved

1 tblsp chopped fresh rosemary

3 – 4 tblsp oil

3 tblsp flour

1 cup red wine

1 tblsp redcurrant jelly (I’m using the quince paste)

2 tblsp parsley, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a heavy based saucepan, saute the bacon in oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels.  Cut the beef into 1cm cubes use the flour to coat it.  Saute in batches until browned on all sides.  Remove.  Add the onions to the saucepan, saute till soft.  Stir in the sliced mushrooms.  Return the bacon and beef to the onion mixture.  Add wine, stock (I used a can of crushed tomatoes because I didn’t have any tomato paste and some extra wine) tomato paste and the rosemary.  Bring to the boil.  Transfer to a casserole dish.  Bake at 160 degrees until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.  Just before serving add redcurrent jelly (or quince paste if you are me) and chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

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