26 March 2015

The Shed

A friend has been watching a show on Netflix and when I asked how it was, she paused a moment and said, "It's one of those shows that would make you say that you are glad to be an only child." I am a dyed-in-the-wool only child! But if there was a point to having siblings, it might be best demonstrated in The Shed.

The Shed began life in the toney recesses of London's Notting Hill. Let's back up.  Actually The Shed began on a ski lift, Christmas 2011.  It grew from the fertile minds of the Gladwin brothers, Richard, Oliver, and Gregory.  The Gladwin's parents moved the trio of brothers to a small winery, where the boys roamed the fields and helped out in the family catering business.  The wine from the winery was served in several restaurants that their father ran.  Down on the farm, the boys saw the importance of seasonal eating.

On the ski lift they envisioned The Shed to be a seasonal restaurant highlighting British produce. With a winery, farm, foraged, food background, the boys didn't wander far.   Gregory began with some sheep and now runs a 450 acre farm, producing most of the meat served at the shed.  Oliver worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage. Richard entered the hospitality trade.  Together, their individual talents produced a winning atmosphere at The Shed. It probably wouldn't have happened if any one of them had been an only child!

After The Shed, the restaurant there was The Shed The Cookbook. While it may be a bit hard to find woodcock and wild rabbit here in the US of A, there are fine substitutes.  Ollie proves to be a very inventive chef.  While The Shed might look like all those other tedious farm-to-table cookbooks, this one will make you sit up and take notice.  There is a focaccia, but this one has rhubarb and white sesame, there are bread sticks wrapped in lardo to dip in the hazelnut pesto, a salad with duck livers and sultanas, just to name a few.

Here is a fresh take on a braised beef.

Sticky Beef Shin with Cauliflower Couscous and Preserved Lemons

2kg beef shin, cut into 8cm pieces with the bone left in
350ml red wine
1 litre vegetable or beef stock
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 shallots, finely diced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

For the preserved lemons
4 lemons, cut in half lengthways, then sliced into 5mm half-moons
100g caster sugar
40g table salt
3 sprigs thyme

For the cauliflower couscous

1 large cauliflower
100g unsalted butter
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
1 red chilli, finely diced
3 sprigs tarragon, leaves removed and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 120C/gas mark ½.

Season the beef shin with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and place it in a deep roasting tin with the wine, stock, garlic, shallots, spices and thyme. Cover the tin with a layer of greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid or foil. Transfer to the oven and braise for six hours, until the beef is moist and tender and the flesh is falling off the bones.

Meanwhile, prepare the preserved lemons. Put the lemon slices, sugar, salt and thyme in a small ceramic ovenproof dish. Cover with a lid and place in the oven alongside the beef for six hours.

Just before you are about to serve, prepare the cauliflower by grating the heads on the largest holes of a box grater – the result will resemble couscous. Put the butter in a large saucepan and stir over a moderate heat until it starts to brown, but not burn. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the sunflower seeds and cauliflower, stirring to coat them in the hot butter. Finally stir in the soaked raisins, chilli and tarragon. Cover with the lid to keep warm while you finish the beef.

Transfer the pieces of braised meat to a chopping board and use two forks to pick the flesh off the bones in long strands. Remove the lemons from the oven and drain.

To serve, arrange a bed of cauliflower couscous on each plate, pile strands of beef shin on top, and finish with a scattering of preserved lemon slices. 

This is one shed you will want spend some time hanging in.

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