I hope everyone, like myself, has had a good Christmas break! Of course, with the 2014 now in full swing, it’s time for the traditional penance: whether that’s simply cutting back after last month’s excesses in terms of calories or sheer expense or making bigger changes in your life (I’m hesitant to use the word “resolution”, since they don’t have to be permanent). So, spurred on by the out-with-old-in-with-the-new spirit of the season, time for a little out-with-the-old!
Recipes dealing with Christmas leftovers are commonplace, but they inevitably seem to deal with just turkey trimmings and ham. What to do with the rest of the festive fayre? Seeing as we rarely snack on them throughout the rest of the year, why should we want to be shelling those pesky brazils and grimacing through the coconut Quality Street well into February? Given what my family had left after the festivities, I saved a half bottle of mulled wine from ending up down the sink and had a bit of an experiment.
Inspired by the French classic, beef bourguignon, I replaced the traditional Burgundy wine with what was left of the mulled stuff to add some winter spiciness to a beef stew. The result was a less rich but more earthy and warming pot of tender meat in a rich gravy, perfect for the cold and wet weather of late (and of every winter, let’s face it). I was concerned whilst making the dish, that the added sugar in mulled wine would make the dish too sweet, but it turned out ok – we were using a shop-bought variety that required you to add sugar on heating, but other brands and homemade, of course, will vary, so use your own judgement. You could of course simply use red wine and a muslin bag of the whole spices that might have lost some of their fragrance by next Christmas!
For the celeriac mash:
Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and brown the beef on all sides, in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan. Set aside and fry the shallots for 2-3 minutes before adding the flour. Once the flour and oil has formed a smooth consistency, return the beef to the pan and pour over the mulled wine, also adding the peppercorns, bay and thyme. Bring to a boil and season to taste before adding the mushrooms and covering with a well fitting lid. Leave the stew to simmer until the beef is tender (about 90 minutes for chuck, but longer for other, tougher cuts). Once the meat is tender, it can continue to simmer or be reheated ready to serve.
For the celeriac mash, bring a pan of well-salted water to the boil and cook the celeriac and potato until tender, about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Drain well and return to the hot pan to boil off any additional water. Remove from the heat and mash with the butter using a potato masher, fork or by passing through a ricer if you have one, beating in the milk to loosen, until smooth. Serve with the stew poured over the top and some winter greens.