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Beef & cream

27 November 2002

Okay, here's another quick recipe for you, compiled from the ingredients of the day (what you have in your fridge) and suited to its purposes (not busy this afternoon but expecting to come home hungry late this evening). Slice two or three onions finely, and soften in a lot of olive oil; add plenty of garlic and an equally finely sliced scotch bonnet chilli. Now wash your hands. Seriously; scotches are hot, and you don't want even the memory of that juice in your eyes, or other sensitive areas. (Oh, and while we're about it, allow me to scotch a myth: the concentrated heat of a chilli is not in its seeds. In a fresh chilli, the seeds contain less than 5% of the capsaicin, which is the hot stuff. Most of it is actually in the membrane that binds the seeds to the flesh. Which you also tend to get rid of if you scrape out the seeds, which is how the confusion arose. Me, I leave it in. And there's absolutely no point faffing around with dried chillies to separate the seeds; capsaicin migrates during and after drying, so it's pretty much evenly distributed thereafter.)

Break in some mushrooms, add a couple of bay-leaves from the tree in the back yard, grind some pepper in. Add a pound of minced beef, and work it in until it's well broken up; meatballs are good, but coagulated lumps of meat are not. Add half a pint of good beef stock (I am led to believe that you can buy this, but don't see why you'd want to; make it, reduce it to a jelly, stick it in the freezer, takes up not much time and no space and you know that it's exactly to your taste, how you think stock should be) and simmer until you have to go out. At this point, turn the heat off, add a couple of chopped red peppers and put a lid on it.

Go down to the Lit & Phil, sign sheets for the Dr Who novella (it's very shiny paper and the ink takes forever to dry; at the Lit & Phil you can spread out fifty, maybe a hundred sheets at a time without inconveniencing anyone. If you can do that at home, you have a bigger home than I do), and then go on to your Chinese lesson. Just a normal day at the office, really.

When you get back, boil up the pasta of your choice, heat the sauce through, add salt if necessary (probably won't be, if you bought your stock) and then surprise the hell out of it with half a pint of double cream and a hefty squeeze of lemon juice. Honestly. Beef and cream, it works a treat in my book. (Okay, I know this is not exactly news, but hey: some things cannot be said too often...)

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© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.