Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A beefy bargain and a thrifty lunch


A rib of beef is a feast not often seen in this house. Usually outside of the budget, it's mostly reserved for special occasions. However, when the sweet man at the farmers' market offers me a double rib for half-price (it was so very cold and no-one could handle change and he was as desperate to get home as the rest of us) - the very same price as a pack of rib-eyes I was eyeing up - there's no way I'm going to say no.


I cooked it up on the Sunday night, following Hugh's tried and trusted 20 min 'sizzle' at 230C then 10 mins per 500g at 160C. Reader, it was perfect rosy pink. I served it with chips roasted in goose fat, creamed spinach and a little Mirabeau sauce, which is dead simple. Simply add a tiny smidgeon more fat to the roasting pan, melt some anchovies in it, then slosh in red wine and reduce. It sounds a little stark but it's a 'beefy' contrast to the meltingly tender meat.


So, as you might imagine there's a fair bit left for lunches. Yesterday I whizzed up a 'green sauce' to dollop over the top of the cold rare beef and some salad, but frankly the weather's cold, the snow's a-coming and I wanted something more substantial. This, dear reader, is the answer.


Cut up some purple sprouting broccoli and cook until slightly more than 'al dente' in stock to barely cover with a smashed clove of garlic. When they're nearly done, add some puy lentils (I use the ones in a can by Merchant Gourmet; you could also cook them from fresh, in which case simply reverse the order of broccoli and lentils) and cook for another 5 minutes. Drain not too carefully into a bowl. Make up a dressing of mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil and toss the lentil mixture in it. (Note: you could - and preferably should, if you have any open - add a glass of red wine to the stock - it adds incredible depth of flavour. I just happen to have drunk mine last night)


This is a feast in itself, but I topped it with more cold beef and the remaining green sauce, but as I have half the lentil mixture left, tomorrow I shall have it with lumps of Gorgonzola piccante perhaps. You could try with a goats cheese, chilli, tomatoes - anything that takes your fancy really. The bonus is that overnight something amazing happens to the lentil/broccoli mixture, the flavours seeping and deepening.