Warming English Winter Beef Cobbler and easy Biscuits/Savory Scone Recipe
Looking for simple recipes for an evening meal, then how about this easy warming Beef recipe that is filling and can be prepared in advance - perfect for a cold Winter's day and a hungry family.
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Well it's definitely turning cold here in England, the leaves on the trees have turned fabulous colours and when they're piled high on the ground they are a great source of fun for the dogs. With the cold weather starting to make it's presence last night's dinner was Beef Cobbler, a warm and satisfying beef recipe that is easy to make and can be prepared well in advance.
I'm not sure if other countries know what a Cobbler is, it's so funny to think that something commonplace in your own country has never been heard of in others, I discover new foods and ways of cooking them every day and it's a source of endless variety.
As you can see in the photograph above a Cobbler is a stewed filling which has scone type biscuits placed on top and which as they rise leave you with a topping that looks like an olde English cobbled street, which is probably where it got its name. There are a lot of sweet versions of Cobblers but this is a main course savoury option where the cobbled top has the tang of Cheddar Cheese and goes so well with the minced beef stew nestling underneath.
Ingredients for the Beef Filling:
500g Minced Organic Steak Beef
1 large Organic White Onion, chopped
2 large Organic Carrots, or 5-6 Organic Baby Carrots, chopped
2 handfuls of Frozen or Fresh Peas
2-3 large Mushrooms
1 tin of Chopped Plum Tomatoes
300ml Beef Stock
1 tbsp of Wholegrain Mustard (optional)
2 tbsp of Flour
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Preparation of the Beef Filling:
To save yourself some washing-up later on I suggest using an ovenproof dish to cook this so that you can easily add your cobbler topping and put it straight in the oven later on.
- Warm your tablespoon of oil over a low heat and then add your chopped onions.
- Gently saute the onions for at least 5 minutes, this will get rid of any bitterness in the onions and for me I hate eating a stew where the onions are still slightly crunchy or firm, because the first stage of the cooking has been rushed. This is a time to relax, turn your brain to a low simmer and just stir letting your shoulders relax and the day's stress recede. Continue cooking until the onions are translucent, shiny and just beginning to take on a pale golden colour.
- Next add the minced beef and continue stirring and sauteing until the mince has turned from that deep red to brown.
Note: If using stock cubes you could try crumbling them in at this point and just adding water later on, I like this method as the flavor seems to be stronger. And while I'm at this point if you do use stock cubes my personal preference is Bovril as it has a really rounded beefy taste.
- If you are using carrots make sure you chop them fairly small so that they will cook in time with the rest of the ingredients.
- Now add all the vegetables that you are using, for me this is the ideal time to empty the fridge of all those odd vegetables that need to be used up, and it's a great way of bulking up the meat and providing the family with fibre and vitamins. My husband has an allotment and there's always little baby carrots or some cabbage to hand, but with today's modern quick frozen vegetables which hold their vitamins just as well as fresh you can just add whatever you have to hand. Note: I recently tried adding Spinach in this and it really was a delicious addition.
- Add the can of chopped plum tomatoes and the tablespoon (or 2 if you wish) of Wholegrain Mustard, I love the kick this gives it and I also like the discovery of the odd wholegrain on my tongue as I'm eating.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of flour and stir for a minute or two until cooked through and incorporated into the mixture.
- Finally add the Beef Stock and seasoning and stir. You may need to use more or less stock depending on your flour and how thick you prefer your sauce/gravy.
- Cover with a lid and leave to gently simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Don't forget to check your seasoning about 10 minutes into it's simmer and adjust before putting together in the final stage of preparation.
Ingredients for the Cobbler:
225g / 8oz Self-Raising Flour
50g / 2oz Unsalted Butter or Margarine
100g / 4oz Cheddar Cheese, grated
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
A handful of dried parsley (optional)
7-8 tablespoons of Milk
Plus a final grating of cheese to finish off.
How to build your Cobbled Street:
This really is the easiest dough to work with and for a beginner or someone that is a bit worried about doing this I promise it really is very simple. I got my 11 year old daughter to roll this pastry and cut it and as you can see in the photograph above she did a grand job.
- Sieve your flour into a medium sized bowl.
- Add dried parsley if using, a pinch of salt and a couple of twists of ground pepper.
- Cut up your butter into small pieces, place it in the bowl with your flour and then to incorporate them both together rub the butter and flour between your fingertips, continue doing this until all the large pieces of butter have disappeared, it's much easier than it sounds.
- Add the grated Cheddar Cheese and give it a quick stir.
- Finally add half of your milk and using a normal household knife mix it in to the breadcrumbs and cheese.
- Slowly add a little bit more milk and using your hand squish the dough until it comes together. You may or may not need more milk it all depends on the flour that you're using but I normally find that this amount is sufficient to make the dough stick to itself without becoming too sticky to handle.
This is a very easy dough if you do add too much milk please don't panic, sprinkle a little more flour over the dough, basically what you want is to be able to pick it all up in one ball without it hanging on to your fingers and covering you in a sticky mess.
The key to a light scone/biscuit is not to mess with it too much, the less you work the dough the lighter your cobbles will be.
- Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out the dough till it's about 2.5cm thick. Again please don't worry if they're thicker or thinner it really won't matter they will still be delicious I just like mine this size, and if you look in the photograph below you will see that we had various sizes. We even had a tiny heart-shaped one for me from my babygirl.
- It's entirely up to you whether you want round or square cobbles, the streets here in England have both types - you will find that this dough cuts very easily and you can use a plain or fluted scone cutter, a knife or a pizza cutter to chop this dough into cobbles.
All of this can be done in advance which means that it will take you minutes to pull it all together in time for your family and friends sitting down for their meal. The final cooking stage will take 25-30 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC / 400ºF / Gas Mark 6.
- Do a final check for seasoning, I always add an additional grinding of black pepper, and eat one of the carrots to make sure it's not hard, honestly this simple precaution is vital, hard carrots in the cobbler will spoil the meal for me.
- Pour your Beef Stew into a shallow baking dish if it isn't already in an ovenproof dish.
- Place your cobbles slightly overlapping in layers on top of the stew.
- Brush the cobbles with a little egg wash or just some milk if you prefer.
- Add a final sprinkling of grated cheese and place in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes.
And there you have it a lovely warming Winter Beef Cobbler, this is a wonderfully filling meal and I find that even when everyone is hungry all that is needed with this is some more lovely vegetables on the side.
HAPPY EATING EVERYONE!
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