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Shin stew

Serves: 4


olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
a small handful of dried porcini
1 cinnamon stick
1kg shin of beef, preferably free-range or organic, bone removed, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2 inch pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
half of a bottle of Chianti


Cooking a shin of beef or any good stewing cut this way gives you some really fantastic comfort food. Just letting it slowly blip away in the oven, with the sauce becoming more and more intense, is the nicest sort of cooking there is. Delicious served with some mashed root veg like carrots, potatoes, a bit of swede, some turnips but you could also serve it with straight mash, polenta or bubble and squeak (you know, fried veg and potatoes, cockney-London style!) and some nice buttered cabbage or spinach.

Preheat your oven to 180oC/350oF/gas 4. In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and gently fry the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, porcini and cinnamon for 5 minutes until softened slightly. Meanwhile, toss the pieces of beef in a little seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Add the meat to the pan and stir everything together, then add the tomatoes, wine and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently bring to the boil, cover with a double-thickness piece of tinfoil and a lid and place in your preheated oven for 3 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon. Taste and check the seasoning, remove the cinnamon stick and rosemary sprigs and serve.