Beef and mushroom stew
To my mind Scottish food is very much defined by the quality of the natural produce rather than a particular flavour or style. Traditionally many dishes would have been cooked in one pot over an open fire but the flavours would have depended on the season, on the area of the country rather than being of a typically ‘Scottish’ flavour. This leaves the contemporary Scottish food landscape as a bit of a blank canvas in which to discover flavour combinations that accentuate the natural larder. During the autumn months there are many wild mushrooms available in the woods and forests up and down the country if you’re lucky enough to know what you’re looking for. Not being a talented forager I tend to stick with dried porcini which are inevitably imported from Italy and I like to pair these with fresh mushrooms from Scotland, I find mini portobello give the best flavour combination with the dried porcini. Add these to fresh garlic, thyme, wild if possible and a good glug of red wine and you have a heavenly combination. All that is left to add is the wonderfully rich flavour of Scotch beef, from Highland or Aberdeen Angus cattle. Slow braising until it is meltingly soft yields the best results from cheaper cuts of meat and brings warmth to an autumn or winter evening.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 15g dried porcini mushrooms
- 250ml boiling water
- 1.5kg braising steak (diced)
- 12 echallion shallots (halved)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 250g mini portobello mushrooms (quartered)
- 1 glass red wine
- 2 sprigs thyme (large ones)
1. Rehydrate porcini mushrooms in the boiling water for 30 minutes. Retaining the liquor from the drained mushrooms.
2. In a heavy bottomed pot brown the beef in a glug of oil. Add in the shallots and garlic and stir through for a minute.
3. Add all the mushrooms, stir again and then pour in the porcini liquor and wine. Place the largish branches of thyme in the liquor, bring to the boil then cover and reduce to a simmer.
4. Simmer for 2hrs 30 minutes until the beef is meltingly tender. Serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.
Photo credit to Sumayya Usmani