Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slow Braised Beef with Cornbread Dumplings

Slow Braised Beef with Cornbread Dumplings
Home Cooking

I consider myself lucky (or great at planning) because my 4 weeks off, post-surgery came at the peak of winter. I could hardly call Brisbane a cold place but because of that, being a Brisbane girl, I'm highly intolerant of cold. There were a few nights where I hid under the doona and refused to surface until midday. It was only about a week or two that we really felt the cold and for nights like that, there is no greater meal to have than this one.

I was fumbling around online and discovered this recipe by Donna Hay. Chili (as in, beef chili) is the meal I have cooked the most often in my life. I usually do it with mince and shove it in taco shells or wraps. It's just so easy and cheap and it tastes awesome. This recipe appealed to me because it not only included a chili beef component but also a topping of cornbread. I love cornbread!

I followed the recipe quite accurately but halved all the ingredients because we only had 750g of brisket. I also cooked my chili in the slow cooker initialy, before transferring it to a baking dish and adding the cornbread dumplings for the oven.

Slow Braised Beef with Cornbread Dumplings
Serves 4

  • 750g beef brisket or chuck, cut into 2cm cubes
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef stock
For the cornbread dumplings
  • 3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (85g) instant polenta
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (60g) vintage cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves

1. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil on high heat and cook the beef until all sides and browned. Set aside.
2. Heat some more olive oil in the pan and cook the onion and garlic for around 5 minutes or until softened. Add the paprika and cook for another minute.
3. Return the beef to the pan and add the tomatoes, beef stock, tomato paste and brown sugar. Bring to the boil. You can either reduce the heat at this point and cook for 3-3.5 hours or put the mix in a slow cooker. I used my slow cooker for about 4 hours. The mixture is ready when the beef is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork. Taste and adjust if you need to.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
5. In a large bowl, combine the flour, polenta, baking powder, buttermilk, salt, pepper, cheese and coriander.
6. Ladle the beef chili mixture into a baking dish. Place spoonfuls of the cornbread batter on top. I rolled them a little in my palms to form a round shape.
7. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until the cornbread is cooked through and golden.
8. Serve immediately with some sour cream (I used natural greek yoghurt) and fresh coriander.

I was so proud of this dish when it came out of the oven. It exemplifies a hearty, soothing, home cooked meal. The dumplings topping the beef were slightly puffed and golden. The oozy spills of chili sauce over the side of the casserole pan only made it look more appealing.

The difficulty with cooking big dishes in the oven is having the outside burn whilst the inside is still raw. With this recipe, the beef filling is cooked first so you run no risk. The pan is only in the oven to allow the cornbread to cook.

I loved that like the Lebanese chicken with quinoa, this was a complete meal in one dish. You have a saucy protein with an accompanying carb so no extra cooking is required. I think something like yoghurt or sour cream is essential because it adds a richness to the beef. We also added a tonne of cayenne pepper to ours so it was an extra-warming winter meal.

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