Richard H. Turner's Braised Shin of Beef with Macaroni
Now that the season is changing, with leaves falling and days getting shorter, we often begin to think more about slow cooking. Which of course is a majestic and simple way to eat. Easy, efficient and delicious. Wonderful. However, out of all the braising cuts available, shin of beef is perhaps one of the more underrated cuts out there. For warming stews and winter casseroles, cuts like short rib, ox cheek and chuck tend to leapfrog ahead as meats of choice and even silverside often gets a shoo-in first. Especially for Cockney-types who have fond memories of boiled beef and carrots.
Or 'Boooooiled beeef an' carrraaaaaaats' - as some older specimens like to sing, after a jar too many.
Economical shin however, should always be a consideration. Coming from the forequarter of the cow and often with the bone intact, the immediate bonus when cooking with it is that your dish will be enhanced by beautiful bone marrow. Which, to frank, should be classed as seasoning in itself. But let's come back to the taste of the meat itself for a second. Because the cut comes from a hard working muscle, the general rule is that after a long braise, you will always be rewarded with a richer, more intense depth of flavour. Which is due to the dense formation of fibres and connective fat. As they break down slowly and envelope, the resulting texture is often nothing short of melting.
So, no basting required, as Phil Collins once sang. No wait, that was his jacket. Whatever, I can't stand Phil Collins.
The added benefit of Richard's recipe is the addition of other flavours such as bacon, mushrooms and star anise. By the upping the savoury quota and delivering hints of aniseed, it all amounts to balmy, cosseting smack to the chops. Perfect for when it is cold outside then and you need to heat up fast.
Add into the mix macaroni, simmered in the stock and liberally dusted with Parmesan; well, suddenly, everything becomes a no-brainer. In fact, after eating this, you'll be wondering why you left it so long to try out shin of beef in the first place.