Nigella Lawson makes no apologies with new recipes
In her first cookbook, British high priestess Nigella Lawson shared her adamant beliefs about how to eat.
“The way everyone really interacts with food is through eating,” she says. “It’s a language that speaks to those who perhaps consider themselves cautious in the kitchen and don’t consider themselves cooks.”
With repetition at the heart of comfort, Lawson’s latest collection of recipes, “Cook, eat, repeat: ingredients, recipes and stories“, was born from the four-month confinement in the United Kingdom.
“Ritual and repetition have always been the hallmarks of human society,” she says. She discusses a scrumptious Port and Chestnut Beef Cheek Stew recipe that evokes a Dickensian Christmas, a holiday feast revived in sandwich form, and her love for English strong mustard.
Good Food host Evan Kleiman will join Nigella Lawson chatting on Saturday, November 12 at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara, and again at the Barclay Theater in Irvine on November 26.
Beef Cheeks with Port and Chestnuts
For 3-4 people
This is a deeply flavored and elegantly cozy stew, perfect for when the nights roll around. It warms body and soul and boosts morale; Eating it feels like instantly sitting in front of a crackling log fire. Show me a stew that isn’t comforting, but this one is also undeniably celebratory. It’s like wearing dress shoes that you can walk in.
Chances are you’ll have to get the beef cheeks from a butcher, and might as well ask them to cut the meat into chunks for you at the same time. After a long, slow cooking, beef cheeks become deliciously tender, but they certainly don’t start out that way: if you’re cutting them yourself, proceed with caution. And if you can’t get beef cheeks, use beef shank.
I often make a horseradish sauce to eat with this, and if you want to do the same, just mix together 3 tablespoons (packed) finely grated fresh horseradish, 3 tablespoons heavy cream, 1/4 cup Greek yogurt with whole milk (or replace the cream and yogurt with 7 tablespoons of fresh cream or sour cream) and add a drop of vinegar and salt to taste. You can make this ahead of time, but just before serving, add a tablespoon or more of finely chopped chives, if desired. However, if you plan to eat the beef cheeks with baked potatoes, then I would increase the amounts of sauce.
Baked potatoes are definitely an easy side dish, and always good, but I have to say my absolute favorite partner for this is the Celeriac and Anchovy Gratin on p.23. And if that’s the plan, you don’t need the horseradish sauce. Either option is rewarding, but which one I choose depends on how much time I have.
Although this is enough for four people, there will probably be no leftovers, but I am happy to cook this when there are three or even two of us. In that case, if you have leftovers, I can happily tell you to lightly shred the meat in its sauce and reheat it gently on the stovetop, adding a little more water as needed, and maybe a little splash of the port you used to cook it. , and turn it into a pasta sauce. If you only have a little bit left, add a little cream.
Warning: this must be done at least one day (and up to 3 days) before you plan to eat it.
- 2½ pounds of beef cheeks
- 3–4 large leeks (6¼ cups sliced, white parts only)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 carrots (about 2 cups, large pieces)
- 1 large or 2 small stalks of celery
- A small bunch of Italian parsley (about 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons beef suet or 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
- 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- A very generous grated nutmeg
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons ruby port
- 1½ cups beef broth
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt or kosher salt (or ½ tsp fine sea salt)
- A good pepper mill
- 1 cup cooked and peeled chestnuts (I buy them in vacuum bags)
- Heat the oven to 300°F. Tear off a generous piece of parchment paper a little larger than the diameter of your Dutch oven (I use a 9-inch diameter thick bottom) and set it aside for now.
- Cut the beef cheeks into large chunks about 2 ½ inches; if the cheeks are still covered with membrane, cut it carefully and peel it off first. Trim and wash the leeks to remove any mud, if necessary. If your leeks are large, cut them in half lengthwise, then into 1-inch slices; if they are relatively thin, just slice them. Peel the garlic cloves.
- Peel the carrots, cut them into pieces, place them in the bowl of the food processor and add the peeled garlic. Tear the celery into small pieces and also add it along with the parsley (leaves and tender stems) and blend until very finely chopped. Or chop everything finely by hand.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of beef suet or heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your Dutch oven and, in two batches, brown the meat over medium-high heat, then remove it to a bowl.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of suet (or tablespoon of oil) to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the carrot mixture and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Finely grate the orange zest into the pan, stir in the fennel seeds and grate the nutmeg – which smells good when they reach the heat – then add the leeks. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, by which time the leeks will have wilted a bit.
- Return the meat to the pan, scraping up any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, and stir well to combine.
- Pour in the port and allow it to bubble before adding the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and salt, and pepper generously into the stew. Add the chestnuts, stir well and when it bubbles, mash the meat in the pan with your spoon or spatula so that it is just submerged in the liquid. Crumple up your piece of parchment paper, steam it out and press it over the top of the stew, tucking the edges in and up around the inside of the pan, then put the lid on and bake in the oven for 3 hours, by which time the meat will be beautifully tender. Remove lid and parchment paper and let cool before refrigerating for up to 3 days. Although you should definitely taste the seasoning before letting it get too cold.
- To reheat, take the stew out of the fridge, skim off the now solidified fat on top if desired, and let come to room temperature.
- If the meat is not just covered with its gelled broth, add a little water so that it is. Tear a sheet of parchment paper to make a new canister and replace the lid and, if serving with the celeriac and anchovy gratin, bake at 375°F for 50 minutes to 1 hour, ensuring that the gratin is on the rack above the Dutch oven. If you want to bake potatoes at the same time, although you’ll have to give them a head start, you can reheat them at 400°F for 40-50 minutes. Make sure the stew is piping hot before serving.
Excerpt from “Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes and Stories” by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2021 Nigella Lawson. Excerpted with permission from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.