Sunday, September 13, 2015

"McCall's Introduction to British Cooking" - Curried Beef - in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's 63 years on the throne

Date I made this recipe:  September 9, 2015 – Queen Elizabeth II Celebrates 63 years on the throne!

McCall's Introduction to British Cooking, Edited by Linda Wolfe
Published by:  Galahad Books
© 1959 – 1972
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores
Recipe:  Curried Beef – p. 45-46

Well let's give a Hip Hip and a Hooray to Queen Elizabeth II (a/k/a "HM" – Her Majesty) for beating out her great-great grandmother Victoria, by one day, making HM's reign the longest ever for Britain at a whopping 63 years, 7 months or 23,226 days.  That is positively brilliant, quite, quite!

I am quite the Anglophile and so I've been following HM and her family (a/k/a "The Firm") for eons now and I find her to be absolutely adorable.  Absolutely.  I mean, she's just so cute, is she not, with her hats and her purse and gloves?  That purse reminds me of the one my Grandma Verme carried around although HM's is likely devoid of cough drops (or, as my Sicilian grandma used to say "cough-a drop-as").  No doubt some lady-in-waiting (yes, she has them) is at the ready just in case HM has a coughing fit – rather.

Unfortunately, and please don't tell HM this, British food leaves a lot to be desired.  And although my husband and I enjoyed almost all our food on our trip to England many moons ago (we lucked out), the British cuisine still – and sadly – is um, rather...well, rather not quite up to snuff.

And this is why I always have a difficult time finding any recipe to make from a British cookbook that doesn't make me go "ew."  I mean, these are people who eat broiled tomatoes and what they called "baked beans" (hardly) for breakfast, along with sausage that made my husband almost flee the country.  Also on many a breakfast menu are kippers which is a small and oily herring.  A herring?  For breakfast, eh what?

I can understand this fixation with fish given that it's an island country but fish just doesn't float my boat (pun intended!) nor does mutton which is eaten with great relish and which I also do not like.  Sure, there's beef, but most of the recipes in this book are for ginormous roasts and two people don't need to eat a Fred Flinstone-style rack of anything.

We will not discuss their fascination with kidneys.  We will not.

And so out of the rubble emerged a dish that is loved by most Brits even though the recipes came from former British colonies – curry.  In fact, the minute I decided to make this dish, I could not help but think of "turkey curry buffet" from the movie, Bridget Jones's Diary.    The annual New Year's turkey curry buffet was a critical scene in the movie where Bridget reacquainted herself with former neighbor, Mark Darcy, and his horrible, horrible holiday "jumper" (sweater). 

So.  There's precedent for cooking curry to celebrate special occasions and so why not HM's...well, what do we call this celebration anyway?  "Anniversary?"  "Nah, nah, I won" Day?  "Take, that Vicky?" (I refer to Queen Victoria.)  Well anyway, you get the point. 

This recipe for Curried Beef was quite delicious but in typical British fashion, the apples and onions were cooked so long that they turned to mush.  They tasted great, as did the beef, but seriously Brits, times have changed and there is no need to render your food inedible like you used to.  I mean "mushy peas" are not called "mushy peas" without a reason. 

You should know that this curry recipe is pretty mild and therefore pretty British.  Do not expect tongue-searing heat from this dish as you would in other countries. That is not how it is done and that is that and that is that!  But it's tasty nonetheless and we ate it all (I made a half-recipe) in one sitting.  Well done then!  Smashing!

So congratulations, ma'am, on your anniversary.  I cannot contemplate doing any job for 63 years , much less leading the British people, so kudos to you.  We are quite chuffed about your success! 

Curried Beef – makes 4 servings
½ cup shortening or salad oil
2 pounds chuck, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup thinly sliced onion
3 cups pared, cored, and thinly sliced cooking apples
1 can (10 ½ ounces) beef consommé, undiluted
1 ½ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups hot cooked rice

Slowly heat shortening in large, heavy skillet.  In this, brown meat well on all sides; remove.  Then brown onion and apples.

Add enough water to consommé to measure 2 cups; pour into skillet.  Add salt, pepper, curry powder, and meat; cover; simmer 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender.

In small bowl, blend flour with lemon juice and a little liquid from skillet to make a smooth paste.

With large spoon, stir paste into rest of liquid in skillet; cook, stirring until it thickens.  Serve on hot rice.

No comments: