Entertaining on a Budget – How to Impress your Friends at a Dinner Party

A huge thanks to our good friend Silas Frogmorton who has shared with us a fantastic recipe for Carbonnade of Beef with parsnip purée, an easy to prepare meal that doesn’t cost the earth!

Here’s what Silas says:

“Carbonnade of Beef with Parsnip Purée is a great recipe, with fancy restaurant name, that will impress your friends at a dinner party.  You don’t have to make things up, as there are lots of authentic alternative names for everyday food; and here’s a perfect example: a Belgian stew that has beer in it, so now you can legitimately call it ‘Carbonnade of Beef’.

Stews in various forms feature regularly in Silas’ series of ‘Entertaining on a Budget’ recipes as just about every region in the world has its own version. Cawl is a hearty Welsh soup that is inches away from being a Stew. There’s Irish Stew, Cassoulet, Beef Bourguignon, Goulash and, when you think about it, many Curries are just exotic stews. The reason they will work so well in this series is you can use cheaper but delicious cuts of meat that need to be cooked for a long time to be tender.

The next thing you need to do to make these dishes great dinner party fayre is to present them elegantly. This recipe uses a crisp, cheesy crouton and a fancy dash of Parsnip Puree to elevate a humble, rustic recipe into an entrée (see how using a fancy word adds improves the dish?!) that will impress and delight your friends.

This dish is also terrific as it freezes well so you can make it well in advance and just re-heat it when needed.

Many Carbonnade recipes will direct you to leave the vegetables chunky, but I want this dish to be a little more elegant, so I have chopped the vegetables quite finely. The meat for my version was supplied by Huw Phillips Gower Butcher, and the Gruyere is from Deli Cymreig, both in Swansea Indoor Market.

Beef Carbonnade Ingredients:

Serves 6 – costs only £2.61 per portion.

  • 750g Beef Shin or Skirt, or lean Stewing Steak, cubed
  • 2 ltrs Quality Beef Stock
  • 1 ltr water
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Large Carrot, finely diced
  • 2 red, or 1 large white Onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk Celery, finely diced
  • 1 440ml can Beer
  • 2 tbsp Thyme leaves
  • 450g Parsnips, cubed
  • 450ml Milk
  • 150 ml water
  • Salt
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 150ml Double Cream
  • 6 x 2cm slices from a Baton of bread
  • 25g Gruyere, grated

Beef Carbonnade Method:

  • Sautee all the vegetable and herbs in a large pan with a little oil. When the vegetables have softened, add the sock and the beer.
  • Brown the meat in a frying pan with a dash of oil until browned all over. Transfer the meat to the vegetables and liquid in the large pan and simmer until the liquid has reduced by ¾ (about 2 hours).
  • Meanwhile, make the parsnip puree. Boil the parsnip cubes in the milk and water until tender. Pour away the liquid and put the parsnip into a food blender with the butter, the cream and a pinch of salt. Blitz until smooth. Press the parsnips through a fine meshed sieve to get a velvety puree. Set aside.
  • When the stew is rich and unctuous, remove from the heat. Put a sieve over a large pan and pour the stew into the sieve so the gravy drips though into the pan.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the croutons. Drizzle a little oil on each side then top each crouton with the grated cheese. Pop the croutons into a preheated oven (180 degrees) for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden.
  • To serve, place 2 generous spoonfuls of the meat to the left hand side of each warmed plate, then use a tablespoon to artfully drizzle some of the gravy over and around it. Top with a crouton. Take a tablespoon of parsnip puree and gently tip it onto the plate opposite the Carbonnade, keeping the lower edge of the spoon on the plate.
  • When the puree has almost all oozed off the spoon, draw the spoon towards you to make a teardrop shape. Enjoy!”

Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher

All the meat and deli products used in the recipe can be purchased from Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher and Deli Cymreig which are both situated in Swansea Market.  Alternatively, you can order online from www.bestonlinebutcher.co.uk or www.bestonlinedeli.co.uk.






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