Hello Beautiful Blog Checker! BBC1 here. We have finally seen the sun for the first time this year here in Cornwall…hoorah!
Someone who has seen a lot of sun is our dear friend Lizzie, who just had a week in Gambia reuniting with old friends she and her family had met there twenty-five years ago.
Whilst Liz was away we looked after Teddy for her, so we had two bouncy cockerpoos to walk. Or lay next to each other!
Anyway we knew Liz was picking Teddy up on her way back from the midlands, where she had flown from. So we decided we should cook her a meal to save her from cooking when she got home. After discussing menus with BBC2, and not being quite sure when Liz would arrive, we decided that I would make a beef cobbler and BBC2 would make a chocolate coconut cake – recipe for that to be posted later.
Although I could have used the ragu recipe I posted previously as the base for this beef cobbler, I wanted to make something new to me. So I came up with this…
Beef and vegetable sauce base:
6 rashers of streaky bacon – finely diced (you could use pancetta or lardons)
500g beef mince
400g braising or stewing steak – diced really finely, say 1cm cubes
3 onions – finely diced
3 sticks of celery – finely diced
3 carrots – finely diced
3 leeks – finely diced
2 cloves of garlic minced or grated
1 cup of frozen peas
1 440g tin of chopped tomatoes
Approx 3 pints of beef stock (I used stock cubes)
4 tbs flour – separated
Half a pint of red wine
Half teaspoon of dried thyme
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
3 tbs of tomato purée
Approx 2 to 3 tbs oil
Salt and pepper to season 2tbs of the flour, and more to taste
250g/8oz self raising flour
½ teaspoon salt
200ml cold water
60g/2oz mature cheddar cheese grated
Pre heat your oven to 150c – fan
Take 2 tbs of flour and season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place this in a plastic bag, toss in the cubed steak and dredge your steak in the seasoned flour.
On a medium to high heat use a heavy pan or casserole dish (that has a lid and can go in the oven) to fry off the streaky bacon. Once cooked use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked bacon to a plate and set aside, leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Now fry off and brown your minced beef, in batches, and remove to the same plate as the bacon when cooked, leaving any fat in the pan. When all the mince has been browned and set aside, brown the floured and seasoned steak in batches and set aside to the same plate with the mince and bacon.
In the same pan, you may need to add the oil at this point depending how much, if any, fat is left in the pan, fry the diced onions for a couple of minutes then add the celery, carrots, leeks and garlic and continue to fry until the onions are translucent. Now sprinkle the remaining 2tbs of flour over the vegetables, along with the dried thyme, and stir this in and allow it to fry off for a couple of minutes in the remaining fat, oil and juices.
Next return the meat to the pan, along with any juices that have collected on the plate. Stir to evenly distribute the meat and the vegetables. Now add the tomato purée and again stir to distribute and allow to fry for three to four minutes, stirring constantly. Now add the red wine and bring this to a rolling boil. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze and get all of that flavour from the meat juices and flour which will have inevitably stuck to the bottom.
Now add the chopped tomatoes, peas, beef stock and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and season to taste. Bring this to simmering point then place on a lid and put into the preheated oven for two and a half hours. You may want to check after two hours and possibly remove the lid to allow the sauce to reduce a little.
Now it’s time to make the ‘cobbles’ which will cook on the top of the sauce for a further thirty minutes at the end.
In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and the suet, add the cheese stirring it into the flour mixture so that it gets evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Now add most of the water, holding back a tablespoon or two. Using your hand, gently bring the mixture together adding some of the remaining water, if needed, the dough should not be wet or sticky that’s why you need to hold back some of the water and only add it until the dough leaves the side of the bowl.
Gently turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using your hands flatten to a 1 inch thick disc and divide into 13 equal portions. Now with your hands lightly floured, roll each portion into a ball and then slightly flatten them.
After your meat sauce has been in the oven for two and a half hours, check for seasoning and consistency. If you’d like it a little thicker add some gravy granules or a tbs of flour mixed with a tbs of butter, stir and return to oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. If too thick for you, add a cup of beef stock a little at a time to reach your desired consistency and return to the oven for a fifteen minutes.
When it is ‘Goldilocks’, just right, gently place your cheese cobblers on top of the meat mixture starting at 12 o’clock, then one at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, then put one between each one in place so that you are left with 4 to place in the centre. You need to ensure you handle the dough gently and as little as possible so that when cooked they will be light and fluffy and not hard or stodgy.
Return the casserole dish to the oven, without the lid, and leave to cook for approximately thirty minutes until the cobbles are golden brown.
Serve with the vegetables of your choice. We went with mashed potatoes and mange tout.
We got 12 good sized portions out of this dish and can confirm that both the sauce and the cobbles freeze really well. Only got 12, because Lizzie and BBC2 had another half a cobble each!
We hope that you will give it a go or use it as a stepping stone to your own creation. After all, you could use any number of meats or vegetables to make something similar. But if you do, please let us know!