Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Deep passionate flavours for a deep passionate saint

I am sitting on a reception desk of a factory somewhere deep in the heart of Oxfordshire. Occasionally I answer the telephone and put someone through to talk to someone else. Mostly I am reading Dark Night of the Soul. It is beautiful, and so observant of human nature. I like it that he describes so clearly how some people collect books about theology, looking for the tranquility they see in others. I don't know anyone who does that. No one at all. No. Can't think of a single person.  :) He has just started to speak about luxury, but before I get too involved in that series of thoughts I had better share this. It is from Old Castille, although I couldn't promise it was Frontivera, St. John's home patch. It has big flavours which I love. I hope he ate something like this once, even if it was only the once.

Carne adobada y guisada en vino tinto: Beef cooked in red wine

1.5kg top rump or thick flank of beef, cut into 4cm cubes
1 large onion, halved
1 large carrot, thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 bouquet garni (fresh parsely, clove, garlic, thyme tied in muslin)
500ml red wine
50ml red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g bacon cut into thin strips
500ml hot water
salt and pepper

Put the beef into a deep non metallic dish. Cut up one half on the onion into three thick slices, and along with the carrot, bay and bouquet garni, add it to the dish. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the wine and vinegar. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in a cool place for 6 - 10 hours (overnight), stir occasionally if you can.

Drain the beef and reserve the marinade. Pour the oil and bacon into a large saucepan, and cook on a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the remaining onion and add it to the pan to cook. When nicely brown, after about 8 - 10 minutes, add the beef and cook until evenly browned. Again, after about 10 minutes, pour in the reserved marinade, bring to the boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Lower the heat and add the hot water. Cover and simmer for 2 - 3 hours, until the beef is tender. Remove and discard the bay leaves and bouquet garni. Serve the stew in a warm deep dish garnished with triangles of fried bread, or mashed potato.

I would eat this with a deep deep full bodied red wine from Castille or Salamanca (where he studied). If there was going to be a salad it would be watercress and rocket, just so as it can set off those powerful perfumed explosions in your mouth with the wine.

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