Braised Skirt of Beef “Provencale Style”
This recipe is great for preparing in advance, leaving to slowly braise and going out for a bracing winter walk. The cut of skirt is ideal for any hearty casserole but you could also use oxtail or ox cheek, clod or neck or other cheap cuts as the cooking method leaves them tender and melt- in- the- mouth. We walked up the small fell opposite our house and looked out over the water drenched landscape of Cumbria, now also covered in snow. The bull next door was warm and dry in his stall unaware of the weather drama around him. The cattle who graze in the fields around our house are now inside for the winter. Their fields have become a small lake. I hope the pasture recovers for the spring.
You will need a large casserole dish with a lid.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1.2 kg lean beef skirt, cut into 5 cm cubes
600 ml dry white wine
250 g smoked belly pork, cut into 2 cm strips
100 g pitted green olives
100 g pitted black olives
50 g plain flour
50 g olive oil
Oil for frying
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
400 g button mushrooms, cut into quarters
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunky rounds
500 ml beef stock
8 large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into quarters
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
8 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
100 ml cognac
Salt and pepper
500 g plain flour
10 g salt
2 egg white
Approx. 200 ml water
In advance - the night before if possible
Marinade the beef
Combine the white wine, olive oil, cognac, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour over the meat, cover the meat well mixing all together with your hands. Cover and marinade for at least 6 hours in the fridge.
Make the sealing pastry
(this will go around the lid of your casserole dish and prevent evaporation of the cooking liquid)
Mix the flour and salt
Add egg white, mix well
Add the water gradually until you achieve a firm dough
Put in the fridge to keep chilled and firm
The next morning - Prepare the casserole
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
Fry the bacon and the mushrooms in a little oil until softly cooked. Set aside.
Drain the liquids from the meat. Set aside with the remaining garlic and thyme. You will be adding this to the casserole later.
Brown the meat in a little oil in a frying pan.
Transfer into the large casserole dish.
In the same pan, add the onions and the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to the casserole dish.
Add the bacon and mushrooms, sprinkle with the flour and stir together.
Add the olives, the marinade and the beef stock.
Add extra water if necessary in order to make sure all the ingredients are covered with liquid.
Roll out the pastry into a long sausage. It doesn’t matter if it breaks.
Put the lid on the casserole dish and seal around the edges with the pastry sausage.
Cook in the oven for 5 hours, starting at 180 degrees and reducing to 160 degrees after 1 hour.
We often serve a casserole like this with tagliatelle pasta, but you could also serve it with other pasta or new potatoes or even polenta.