CORNISH UNDER ROAST
Is there a definitive recipe for this Cornish classic? What cut of beef do you use? I have seen some recipes that use Chuck steak - I do not believe that would have been used in times gone by. It takes a lot of slow cooking to begin to tenderise it, plus it has sinews running through. Yes, a slab of sirloin steak would be good, but would our ancestors have been able to afford that? But they could afford skirt and used that in their pasties and stews. I reckon they would have used a slab of skirt for under roast too. A lean tender cut, with no fat, skirt is very tender with little cooking. I have have been working on developing a updated version of this very old recipe, using more acceptable ingredients - and no dripping!
For each person, take a portion size slab of skirt [steak for a special occasion or supper with friends]. I gave it a little bash with a mallet to tenderise, just to make sure! Season it well with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and drop it into a large hot pan, with a little olive oil. Fry off both sides, to colour and start the cooking process. About 6 or 7 mins each side. Set aside while you....
Prepare the "terrific trio" of carrots, onion and celery, in whatever proportions you like, cubed and diced fairly small. I use less celery and cut it really finely, so haters of it cannot see it! But do use it, as it gives such a wonderful flavour. Fry the trio in the pan you cooked the skirt, in a mix of butter and olive oil. After 5 mins, take a oven proof serving dish that is big enough to hold the skirt slabs in one layer and place the vegetables in the bottom, placing the skirt over them. See photos on my Blog: www.recipesfromacornishkitchen.blogspot.co.uk
Peel some potatoes [like King Edwards] and slice to a medium thickness - I have a nifty Oxo Good Grips Mandolin. It is so handy. Put a little more oil in your hot pan and fry the potato slices in a single layer for a minute or so each side, then arrange them on top of your meat. You will have to do this in batches. Season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Then pour in a little good quality beef stock, [I quite like the beef stock pots] so that you just cover the meat, but NOT over the potatoes. Place in a preheated oven at around 180 C. I cover with foil for the first half hour then remove it and let it all brown for a further 45 mins or so. Turn the oven down if they are browning too much. Serve with a green vegetable. A meal fit for a Queen.
Our ancestors would not have used the veg base. Maybe a little onion. The meat and potatoes would have been fried in dripping. But otherwise - it is near as I can get! Just delicious.