Friday, 10 April 2015

Hairy Bikers' Beef Madras

OCD Panic Rating: 3/5
Handwashes: at least 4

I love curry.  It's amazing.  However, I generally like to have it presented to me while I sit under a blanket watching TV.  I'm a bit lazy that way.

This week, though, I had a recipe that seemed doable, a husband that wasn't going to be home until late, and an unexpected afternoon off work, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to throw together some proper home cooking.  This was also my contribution to our week of homecooked dinners, so it wasn't all my husband's responsibility.

The recipe really is simple and comes from a really fab book by the Hairy Bikers.  You cook off some onion, garlic and chilli, chuck in a few spices, some tinned tomatoes and some meat, throw it in the oven and come back to tasty yumyums an hour or two later.

Theoretically.

I alluded last time to what happened when my husband tried to make this:


What's wrong with this picture?

This is the result of putting a non-flameproof casserole dish on a gas hob.  Epic fail.  I genuinely thought that there was no way I could make a worse mess of it than he did.  I wasn't wrong, although I made a decent fist of it.

I bought 800g whole braising steak for this meal.  All I needed to do was trim the fat off it and cut it into good-sized chunks.

It took me six different knives to do this.

Maybe I'm stupid or maybe my knives are dull, I don't know, but I could not cut that fucking meat for the life of me.  I almost resorted to using the bread knife before discovering a mighty blade at the back of my knife rack which is about 5mm off being a full-on machete.  It cut through the meat like butter, but not before I'd tried ripping the fat off the beef with my bare hands.  Not a strong moment.

Bearing in mind that I'm an OCD sufferer, this was all quite distressing.  Hilarious, but distressing.  I felt like I was coated in cow for the next twelve hours and it is quite remarkable that four handwashes was sufficient for me to get through the evening.  Thankfully, the rest of the preparation was fine and the madras went into the oven looking pretty damned good.

At the allotted time, I took it out, expecting to find chunks of tender meat in a thick, spicy gravy.  I had soup.  The liquid did not seem to have boiled off at all and it took a good twenty minutes on the hob for the consistency to come out properly.  Pathetic cook alert: I did call in my husband at this point to make sure I was doing it right.  Apparently I was, and the food did eventually make it to the table, just a little bit later than planned.

I've got to say though, it was totally worth the wait.  The meat really was tender, flaking away as soon as the fork touched it.  The gravy did have the right consistency: wet enough to provide a satisfying sauce but also thick enough to coat the meat and rice well.  Considering the relative lack of spices in it, the flavour was very satisfying.  The use of red chillies flavoured the sauce and gave it a warm heat without overwhelming the taste.  And there was a load left to freeze as well.

Based on this experience, it'll be a little while yet before I'm ready to tackle my real food fears, especially chicken, but I'm really pleased that I was able to manage such a meaty dish.

Key Points:

  • Know your tools.  Picking out the right knife first time would have saved me a lot of angst and a load of extra washing-up.
  • Know your oven.  I've learnt to work around my oven's idiosyncrasies when baking but haven't yet mastered it with normal cooking.  In future, I'll reduce the amount of stock to maybe 600-650 mls rather than 750, which should stop it getting too thin.



Win rating: 4/5.  It was a 5/5 for flavour but I did come close to a full OCD tailspin, knocking it down a point.

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