Beef Braised in Beer (low fat!)
It may not be obvious from this blog, but I'm actually on a bit of a healthy-eating plan at the moment. Yes, a blog full of baking recipes may have deluded you somewhat, but it's true. I'm trying to get fit and healthy, especially in preparation for a rapidly-approaching trip to Europe. I mean, I can't look like a sad, fat-wobbly tourist walking around fashionista Italy, can I?! Banish the thought!
Of course, making a decision to go healthier in the middle of what seems to be an never-ending Melbourne winter is pretty bloody poor timing. Everything is crying out for thick fat-heavy stews and chunky soups and all things buttery and good. Although, I have to admit in a delusion of self-congratulation at the healthy fish dinner I ate at Claypots last night, I succumbed to an incredible Polish plum jam donut from Europa Cake Shop in Acland Street last night. Good work, Niki. I think I've seen a short doco about the making of those donuts; they take 10 hours to make. But even cold and at midnight they tasted magnificent. (NB just found a short doco about these donuts. They are, indeed, 'famous'.)
But, anyway, back to the healthy food. I was looking through the low-fat section of Nigella Lawson's How to Eat and was surprised to see a recipe for 'Beef Braised in Beer'. Surely that's not low-fat! How could it be? But it sounded like perfect winter food, so not believing my luck, I gave it a go. Nigella says it is pretty much an English version of a carbonnade - a northern French stew of meat cooked with dark beer and prunes. Now, I'm definitely not a fan of sweet flavours in my savoury foods, or fruit mixed with meat, but I was game, especially as the idea behind this was that the richness and depth of the prunes would replace any extra fat in the dish. Soaked prunes have a similar texture to fat, and are often substituted for their equal weight of butter in low-fat baking recipes. Also, because the dish is cooked very slowly, you can use lean meat, and it will still be quite tender.
It would have been obvious to choose Guinness for my stout, but instead I got Cooper's Extra Stout. Support your local businesses!
It was easy to make and definitely very full flavoured. I acutally liked the taste of the prunes - they gave a tang that was good with the dark flavours of the sauce. However, I could only take it in small doses. The sweetness got to me after a while.
It definitely didn't taste low-fat, and was perfect for a cold winter's night. My mum came home to the smell of warm stew and told me it reminded her exactly of the old-fashioned beef braises her mother used to make in the 50s & 60s. So, I guess that's a commendation! I think she liked it more than I did.
Keeping with the whole healthy-eating-plan thing, I served this on top of wholemeal pasta. I'm slowly coming around to the taste of the wholemeal stuff, but it's never going to be a good as 'real' pasta!!
I think, as so many of you already have How To Eat that I'm not going to include the recipe this time. If you don't have it, go out and pick up a copy! It really is a very useful book.
Braise after coming out of oven