I had some estofado de vacuno I needed to use up yesterday, and for once, Tony didn’t fancy a beef curry. Well, we are going out for a curry at Spice City with friends on Thursday, so perhaps he didn’t want to overdo the spicy stuff. So, I hit the Spanish cook books in search of inspiration, and came across this brilliant recipe in Rick Stein’s Spain.
What attracted my attention was that, unusually, the beef was cooked in white wine, as opposed to red wine. I couldn’t imagine how that would work, but I’ve cooked a lot of Rick’s recipes and never had a failure, so I decided to give it a go.
The recipe in the book feeds 6, and there are 10 crushed cloves of garlic in it. Now, I love garlic, but Tony isn’t too keen, and even reducing the quantities, it would still have meant using 3 – 4 garlic cloves, so I decided to cut it down to 2, and use extra bay leaves. I also cut down a bit on the olive oil, but used a little extra white wine, as Tony doesn’t do big quantities of olive oil either. The recipe called for 7 tablespoons for 6 people – I just used 2. Here’s how I cooked it:
First, I coated my 500 grams of meat in seasoned flour, then browned it in a little olive oil. Then I set the meat aside, added the rest of the olive oil and slowly cooked 200 grams of onions, the garlic and bay leaves for half an hour, adding a little salt and a little extra white wine to make up for the reduced quantity of olive oil. I reckoned that would stop the onions and garlic drying out, and I was right.
Once the onions and garlic were nicely softened, I returned the beef to the pan with 150 mls of white wine and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then I brought it to the boil, before lowering the heat and simmering slowly for two hours. There’s not a lot of liquid in this, so you need to stir it fairly regularly.
You can use any white wine, but I settled for a Pata Negra Verdejo, which happens to be on offer at Consum for just €2 at the moment, instead of the usual €3.50. It’s a nice crisp white, and I thought it was ideal to achieve the results Rick spoke of. Plus, I tidied up the rest of the bottle while the meal was cooking!
After two hours, I added the carrots, then cooked it for another 30 minutes. Rick suggests serving it with patatas fritas, which is how the Spanish serve it, but I did boiled new potatoes in their skins. I reckon it would also go well with brown rice.
So, what was it like? Certainly different to any other beef casserole I’ve eaten. Usually I cook beef with red wine, and/or tomatoes. Often, I’ll add some smoked paprika to the mix too. That makes for a rich flavour, and the first couple of mouthfuls of this seemed a little strange.
However, once my palate adjusted to this different way with beef, I have to say I really enjoyed it. As Rick says, the white wine gives it a crisp, clean taste, and it’s not particularly herby, since only bay leaves are used for flavouring. I’d certainly cook this again, and it’s light enough for summer eating when you’ve had enough of the salads and barbecues.
Incidentally, if you don’t yet have a copy of Rick Stein’s Spain, it’s on offer at Amazon for just £5. Click on the link above to buy.