There’s something about slow cooking which quickly prepared meals (regardless if wholesome and homemade) just cannot replace. Depth of flavour, love and attention and a melt in the mouth texture. Slow cooking allows so much time for the flavours to develop and infuse. I was skeptical at the extent to which just a small star of wooden star anise and a cigar coil of cinnamon could impart but it really is amazing at the subtle but very evident punch a pinwheel of spice can offer. Don’t worry, the chocolate cannot be tasted in an offensive way just a rich silky background to a beautiful sauce. Although I will warn you….don’t think about adding your favourite Cadburys bar. Keep it dark.
- 1kg beef shin (allow a little more if feeding hungry chaps or leftovers)
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 pint red wine
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pint beef stock
- 25g dark chocolate (85%+)
- Flat leaf parsley
- To serve – roasted cumin carrots, savoy cabbage, creamy mash
- If you can, soak the cuts of beef in the red wine with the cinnamon and star anise over night.
- When ready to cook preheat the oven to 120°C. Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole dish with a splash of light oil, pat dry the beef and season well. Brown in the oil on all sides until golden and then set aside.
- Add the chopped onion and gently cook until soft for about 15 minutes making sure they don’t catch on the bottom.
- Add the beef back to the pan and turn up the heat. Add the wine, the cinnamon, star anise, pepper and bay leaf.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for a few minutes until the wine has reduced a little. Top up the pan with enough beef stock to cover the meat and prevent it from drying out on cooking.
- Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours with the lid on by which time it should be deliciously tender and falling apart.
- After 3 hours, remove from the oven and take out the beef and as many onions as you can and set aside.
- Drain the sauce (adding a little more stock if it has reduced too much) and discard the spices. Place the sauce in a saucepan and simmer gently to thicken slightly spooning off any fat. Season to taste.
- Add the chocolate and stir in until melted.
- Return the beef to the pan and heat through.
Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley with some deliciously creamy mash potato. Soften some chopped garlic in a knob of butter before adding some shredded savoy cabbage and braising until soft. Cumin roasted carrots with a charred edge are also a delicious pairing.