longside beef cheek, shin is hard to beat when it comes to the kings of cuts which benefit from being cooked low and slow for hours on end — allowing all of that collagen to break down, giving way to tender meat which can be cut with a spoon, alongside that sticky quality you can only get from long braises, bones and marrow.
Take two or three large pieces of beef shin, around two inches thick. In a hot, large heavy-bottomed pot, sear off the beef until it becomes brown, deckled and forms a decent crust.
Cook off some halved shallots and a couple of carrots, add a glass (or more) of red wine (scraping off the fond from the bottom for added flavour), fresh thyme and lemon thyme, a couple of bay leaves, a good squeeze of tomato puree, beef stock or a stock pot (two if you want it richer).
A good glug of Worcestershire sauce, a dollop of Dijon mustard, a good twist of black pepper, and top up with more wine, or water, ensuring most of the meat is covered.
Put the lid on and a cook at 140C-150C for at least four to five hours. Once the meat is tender, remove and gently take it from the bones, along with the marrow. Now, sieve the cooking liquor and reduce until it suitably thickens. Add the meat back in and serve with pappardelle pasta or on top of creamy mash.
This is a take on a version I discovered in the superb Moro cookbook — from the London restaurant of the same name. It’s very easy, affordable, and equally heart-warming.
First, take two bulbs of garlic, add a touch of olive oil and wrap well in tin foil. Cook in a medium oven for 30-45 minutes or until the cloves have turned soft and slightly caramelised.
Take a couple of pieces of cooking chorizo and heat in a pot with a touch of olive oil to release the flavour and fat. Squeeze all of the garlic into the pot before adding a sprig of thyme, a dash of white wine or sherry, chicken stock and water.
Cook down for around 20-30 minutes until everything has come together and reduced. Season with pepper (and any salt if needed) and finish with double cream. You can either now poach an egg in the broth or, for added texture, fry in a separate pan. Serve up with some toasted sourdough, or another suitable bread of choice.
Meatballs and pasta
This is a classic combination which can make beef mince and pasta go a long way.
To make the meatballs, use beef mince (you can also add some decent pork sausage meat) and combine with panko, or regular breadcrumbs, fennel seeds, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and a dash of fish sauce. Roll into large meatballs and sear in an oven-friendly deep frying pan.
For the sauce, combine tinned tomatoes, garlic sautéed in a drop of olive oil, a touch of fennel seeds and sugar (and any preferred herb). Cook down for at least 20-30 minutes.
Now, combine the sauce with the meatballs in the frying pan along with cooked rigatoni or conchiglie. Top with mozzarella and grated parmesan and stick under a hot grill for a few minutes until everything is melted and oozing, and finish with some fresh basil or parsley.