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Recipe of the Month

Braised feather blade of beef with parsley risotto by Les Wassall, head chef at Pecks Restaurant in Congleton.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the feather blade
• 1.5 kg blade of beef
• 100ml olive oil
• 40g unsalted butter
• 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
• 1 onion, roughly chopped
• 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
• 2 leeks, roughly chopped
• 1 can of Guinness
• 25g of tomato purée
• 2 sprigs of thyme
• 4 bay leaves
• 1 large sprig of rosemary
• 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
• Half bottle of red wine
• 1 litre of beef stock

Ingredients for the risotto
• 50g unsalted butter
• 1 onion, chopped
• 250g carnaroli rice
• 600ml of chicken stock
• A bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
• Double cream, optional

Method
• Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. 
• Trim the blade of beef, removing any fat or skin, and then season. 
• Heat half of the oil and half of the butter in a large frying pan, then add the beef and brown all over. 
• Remove from the pan and add the remaining oil and butter and fry off all the vegetables and lightly brown.
• Add the Guinness and tomato purée, and then add to the beef in a deep roasting tin or casserole pan. 
• Add the herbs and garlic and pour over the red wine. Top up with beef stock so the meat is covered.  Place a lid on the beef and cook in oven for 4 hours or until the meat is tender when pierced with a knife. 
• Allow to cool a little before removing from pan. 
• Begin the risotto 15 minutes before the end of beef cooking time. Place the butter in a good sized pan and melt but do not brown. Add the onion and some seasoning and cook until clear but not coloured. 
• Add the rice and 100ml of chicken stock. Take care to stir the rice continually until it has absorbed the stock, and then add another 100ml. 
• Continue like this until all the stock has been used up. Add the parsley according to your preference and cook for a few minutes more until the risotto is moist and al dente (with a bite). A small amount of double cream can be added to the risotto at this stage to give a creamy texture, but this is optional. If the risotto is too thick add a little more stock, and if it is too sloppy cook it out a little more.

To serve
• Strain the beef liquor from the vegetables and return to the stove. 
• Reduce the liquid until it is thickened slightly. 
• Slice the beef to required portions. 
• Add a portion of the risotto to your serving plates, carefully position the beef angled on the risotto, see picture, and coat the meat with the hot reduced sauce. Add a sprinkle of chopped parsley to finish.




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