For as long as I can remember, I have been singing the praises of our Irish grass-fed beef. We have always been proud to serve it in the restaurant and I firmly believe it is the best beef in the world. So I was delighted to see all the work that farmers, Bord Bia, and the Livestock and Meat Commission have done being rewarded when our Irish grass-fed beef was awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status by the European Commission recently. This is a fantastic achievement for the whole island and congratulations to the many people who worked hard on this over the years.

St Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year. The restaurant is closed and I suspect many of us will be enjoying this beef bourguignon at home. It is a great meal to make ahead in batches and really is the ultimate comfort food. When you cook with wine, I always say, ‘If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with’.

I always think of my Dad, Joe, when I cook this rice pudding. When I was a youngster, he used to take me to the Railway Hotel in Enniskillen for rice pudding, as a treat. Our twins love it today. Sometimes I use the Simply Better arborio rice, which is delicious. I also like it with a tin of coconut milk; topped off with some chopped pineapple.

Happy Cooking, Neven

Beef Bourguignon

Serves 4–6

25g (1oz) butter

2 tbsp sunflower oil

350g (12oz) small shallots, peeled

100g (4oz) pancetta or rindless streaky bacon

675g (1 ½lb) chuck steak,

cut into bite-sized pieces

50g (2oz) flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 bottle red Burgundy wine

150ml (¼ pint) beef stock

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

225g (8oz) small chestnut mushrooms, trimmed

2 tbsp brandy

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crusty French bread, to serve

1 Heat half of the butter and one tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry for 3–4 minutes, until they’re just beginning to brown, then tip in the pancetta or bacon and fry until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

2 Place the beef pieces in a ziplock bag with the seasoned flour. Toss until the beef is well coated with the flour, then remove, shaking off any excess. Add the beef to the frying pan and fry until lightly golden on all sides.

3 Transfer to a casserole dish with a lid. Add a little of the red wine to the frying pan and scrape the bottom to remove any sediment. Then pour this in on top of the beef with the rest of the red wine and the stock, carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme.

4 Add the sautéed shallots and pancetta and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer gently for 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender but still holding its shape.

5 Halfway through cooking, heat the remaining butter and remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the mushrooms for 3–4 minutes, until just tender and lightly browned, stirring.

6 Add the brandy and cook for another few minutes. Stir the mushrooms into the casserole dish and return to the oven for the remaining cooking time. When the beef bourguignon is ready, season to taste and serve straight to the table with a separate bowl of crusty French bread to hand around.

Rice Pudding and jam. \ Photo by Philip Doyle. Food styling by Janine Kennedy.

Traditional rice pudding

Serves 4–6

500ml (18fl oz) milk

200ml (7fl oz) cream

100g (4oz) short-grain pudding rice

75g (3oz) caster sugar

25g (1oz) butter

½ vanilla pod, split in half lengthways, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry jam (optional)

1 Place the milk and cream in a heavy-based pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice, sugar, butter and vanilla pod or extract and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

2 Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 30–40 minutes, until the rice is tender and creamy, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

3 Remove the vanilla pod from the pan and discard. Spoon the rice pudding into warmed bowls and add a little raspberry jam, if liked, to serve.

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