To match with the delicious Rioja wines at our recent tasting, Mary-Jane Caro served her fantastic Spanish casserole. Complex and heart-warming it made for a stunning match with the old-school Riojas. It’s particularly good with Rioja’s star grape, Tempranillo, but it would be equally great with many other smooth, rich Spanish reds.
This recipe is best made a day or two ahead of serving.
2kg Cross cut blade steak – leave in whole piece or whole slices
1 large brown onion – chopped into quarters
2 tablespoons decent olive oil
1 large carrot – chopped into chunks
1 large celery stalk – chopped into chunks
2 cloves garlic – minced
3 cups decent white wine – something you can drink!
1 or 2 cups good beef stock – NOT stuff in a cardboard carton
85 grams Valrhona Guanaja chocolate – available at Sabato
1 bay leaf
6 juniper berries – crushed
2 12cm rosemary sprigs
Zest of ½ large orange – take this off with a vegetable peeler and don’t include any white pith
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon runny honey. You can add a little more honey in the final tasting if necessary – I usually do!
3 smoked dried Nora peppers – available from Sabato
1 teaspoon La Chinata smoked paprika – available from Sabato
Vegetables for serving:
1 large brown onion – finely diced
1 large carrot – finely diced
1 large celery stalk – finely diced
1 clove of minced garlic
Heat oven to 200°.
Heat your casserole dish or a fry pan over high heat, add the olive oil and brown the meat on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook the vegetables and garlic for 5 minutes.
Add the white wine then increase the heat and boil for 3 minutes.
Stir in the chocolate, bay leaf, juniper berries, rosemary, orange zest, and stock.
Return the meat to your casserole dish with the above mixture.
Put the casserole with a tightly covered lid in the oven and turn down immediately to 130°.
Cook for 2 hours. I look at it after 1 ½ hours but generally find it takes 2.
I now leave the meat in this mixture for 1 day if possible in the fridge then skim off any fat that rises to the surface.
When you are ready to serve, remove the meat from the mixture and strain the mixture into a clean casserole. Discard the vegetables.
Cut the meat into small/medium cubes and return to the casserole.
Add the vegetables for serving (onion, carrot, celery stalk and garlic) to a fry pan and cook slowly until very soft – about 20 mins. The above can be cooked while the casserole is in the oven warming. Add to the meat mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste plus 1 tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar.
Heat slowly as you do not want the meat to cook any more. You can thicken slightly with arrowroot mixed with a little water if desired.
Serve with mashed potatoes or couscous.
Top each serving with:
2 Cups roughly ripped sourdough breadcrumbs – easier to make if bread is 2 days old!
Sauté breadcrumbs in olive oil till crisp – I do this in the oven. Add fine zest of 1 lemon, chopped parsley and some pomegranate seeds if available.
Scatter over the top JUST before serving