Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 29 2012

I am well versed in basic kitchen arithmetic : beef + onions + red wine + 2 hours = one amazing dinner. I don't need Delia to teach me that. But, maybe I do need her stern glare that prevents me from skipping the hated step of browning the meat. And then, again, to sweet talk me into adding an obscene quantity of black pepper to the pot. Both of these conspired to take our au poivre to the next level.

crushing peppercorns

lots of pepper!

Dust the beef in pepper-laced flour then brown in drippings (I used bacon fat... yum!). Next the onions get the same treatment until nice and golden. Finally, crush garlic with salt and stir that into the pot.

my meat is browned!

Now add almost a full bottle of red wine plus herbs then into the oven for a low-and-slow 2 hours. Smelling good in here!

Finally, stir in crème fraîche and devour. It pairs happily with smashed potatoes and an ice cold martini. The beef is rich and succulent and behind each bite lingers the gentle sting of black pepper, awakening your senses.


2 lb good-quality braising steak, cut into 2 in pieces
1 level dessertspoon whole black peppercorns
15 fl oz red wine
1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
3 tablespoons beef dripping or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 fat cloves garlic, crushed in a pestle and mortar with 1 level teaspoon sea salt
2 bay leaves

A large sprig thyme
2 rounded tablespoons crème fraîche
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 300°F.

Begin by crushing the peppercorns coarsely with a pestle and mortar, then mix them together with the flour on a plate. Now dip the pieces of meat into this mixture, pressing it well in on all sides. Next, heat 2 tablespoons of the dripping or oil in the casserole, and when it is really hot and beginning to shimmer, quickly brown the pieces of meat, about 4 at a time, on both sides, then transfer them to a plate. 

After that, add the remaining dripping or oil to the pan and brown the onions for 3-4 minutes, still keeping the heat high. Then add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute. Now add any remaining flour and pepper left on the plate to the pan, stirring well to soak up the juices, then add the wine a little at a time, continuing to stir to prevent any lumps forming, and scraping in any crusty residue from the bottom and edge of the pan. 

When it's at simmering point, add the meat to the sauce, season it with salt, then pop in the bay leaves and thyme. Bring it back to a simmer, then put a lid on the casserole and transfer it to the middle shelf of the oven to cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. When you're ready to serve, remove the herbs, add the crème fraîche, stir it in well, then taste to check for seasoning before serving.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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