I love my flat. I really love it. It’s perfect and isn’t a tiny craphole and it has a lovely kitchen and it’s close to work and I need to keep saying this because I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanna ziga-zig-ah. Ha! Just kidding. But I really, really do want a barbecue.
I have no outdoor space, unless you count the car parking space in the back. But that’s normally full of car and, on one memorable occasion, a really broken sofa. My new neighbours rejected the idea of carrying the sofa the old tenants had left behind down the really thin and winding stairs so dragged it onto their roof terrace and chucked it off the roof. Apparently there was much heaving and grunting and suddenly the most awful crash as it sproinged into the car park with an almighty crash and basically exploded. It landed in my car parking space and everyone in the building collectively lost their sense of humour. Fortunately and miraculously none of the bits hit any of the other cars (apparently they very deliberately waited until the car park was nearly empty) or windows – although the cat from number 6 now won’t go outside. I (secretly) found it fairly funny although I concede that had it squashed the car, Lovely One may have committed a murder that day.
The moral of this story is twofold. First, don’t throw furniture off the roof (you’d think you didn’t need to be told that, but apparently not). The second is that my next door neighbours are the luckiest sods on earth because they have a roof terrace and it’s NOT FAIR *stamps foot*.
So, it’s national barbecue week here in the UK and everyone’s coming up with cool fun things to do with their Big Green Eggs and what are the top ten things for barbecues and I’m feeling super left out. So I dug around in my back catalogue of Good Housekeeping magazines and cuttings from the USA and various other places and came up with this. It’s by no means perfect and doesn’t give you that full-on smokiest experience, but it’s a saucy, satisfying attempt to recreate BBQ magic indoors. If you’re not able to sweet-talk a friend into throwing a barbecue, it’ll tide you over in the meantime.
Cheatin’ Beef – slow cooker BBQ beef
***WARNING*** – this takes ages to cook, and for best results should be made overnight then left during the day for optimum fat removal.
800g beef shin – preferably in one piece, but chunks is fine
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
100ml barbecue sauce
1 x 300g packet of passata (sieved tomatoes – a tin of chopped will do but the texture won’t be as smooth)
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp dark brown soft sugar
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp english mustard powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 x bay leaf
1 x dried chipotle chilli
First, get out your diary. It’s a strange start to a recipe, but you need to work out your timings. Ideally, if wanting to eat on a Saturday night, you’d make it when you get home from work on Friday, turn it off around midnight (or when you go to bed), in the morning pop it in the fridge and remove the fat around 4pm on Saturday before reheating in the evening. Just saying.
When you’re ready to begin and have worked out your timetable, fry off your beef so it’s nice and brown. To be honest, I’m not sure it makes a massive difference once it’s in the pot, but the aim of the game is those nice crusty bits, so persevere, if only for my sake. Tuck it into your slow cooker, in two large chunks if necessary. If, like me, you forgot to be specific with your instructions to the butcher, you will have a load of chunks which is fine too.
Pop in your bay leaf and chipotle, then return the frying pan to the heat and add your onions and garlic, stir around to pick up all the brown crustiness then pour in your tomatoes, BBQ sauce, vinegar, sugar and worcestershire. Bring up to the bubble then stir in the spices with a good grinding of salt and pepper, then tip over the beef in the crockpot and stir up to combine everything. If it’s looking super-thick then add a splash of water, but remember that you may need to bubble it at the end of the cooking time if it ends up too thin.
Pop it on “low” then leave it alone for about 6-8 hours, or until a fork poked experimentally into the meat causes it to fall apart. Yup, that’s a long time.
After this time, your stew will be rich and good-smelling and with two forks you should be able to tear the beef into rich strips. Hold off for two secs, because at this stage I like to try and skim off the layer of fat on the surface. If feeling especially able to resist, I’ll pop the whole thing in the fridge once cold and then peel off the fat the next day. Then shred up the meat with your two forks – it will lay like little strips in your gooey sauce which should be warming, spicy and incredibly rich-tasting.
When you’re ready to eat, serve with either rice or grains or potatoes or (my favourite) little buns or even fries, a mound of salad and a satisfied grin.
PS – Pop on top of some chips and serve with polish curd cheese, and this makes the filthiest alt-poutine you ever did try. Just saying. It’s virtually x-rated.