Beef in a Fine Sauce

“Brawn en Peverade” was the medieval name for this fairly grand pottage. Brawn at that time meant simply “meat”. This pottage is delicious and distinctive; a feast-day dish which has been made in northern England since the twelfth century. The slight sharpness of the sauce was much liked in medieval cookery. It is traditionally served with “sippets” of fried bread and peas, green or dried.

Ingredients

  • 4 lb (2 kg) good-quality stewing steak
  • 24 small, whole onions or shallots
  • 1 quart (9 dl) good beef or chicken stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) butter
  • cup (45 g) flour

Method

Trim the steak and cut into rather thin pieces about 2 inches (5 cm) square. Lay the meat in a shallow casserole and put the onions on top. Mix all the ingredients except the butter and flour and pour over the beef. Bring to the boil, cover the casserole and put in a moderate oven, 350°F (180°C, Gas Mark 4), for 2 hours.

Remove the casserole from the oven and check that the meat is tender. Pour off all the liquor into a bowl. In a separate saucepan make a roux with the butter and flour. Gradually pour on the cooking liquor, stirring all the time. Allow the sauce to boil gently for 2 to 3 minutes. The sauce should be smooth and thick, tasting rich and spicy and slightly sharp. Pour the sauce over the meat and onions and serve.

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