I found an interesting recipe over at The Guardian, and am curious about "savoury cobblers" since I'm a big fan of the sweet ones. I was also tempted by a classic Bolognese ragù, and found a recipe that uses milk instead of wine. I also found a Bacon, Beef and Blue Cheese Stew in my Bacon cookbook. Curious about the effect of a few sprinkles of blue cheese at the end. The ragù might be enhanced too, by adding a little orange zest, butter and parmesan at the end.
Here's the recipe, brought to us by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I think I'll make it this afternoon, for 6-8 friends (or, 4, actually).
Beef stew with cheddar cobbler topping
A one-pot wonder, though you may want some buttery savoy cabbage on the side. Serves six to eight.
50g butter or dripping, plus extra
250g salt pork, pancetta or bacon, cut into smaller cubes than the beef
500g baby onions, peeled
1.5kg stewing beef or shin, trimmed and cut into generous chunks
Up to 50g seasoned plain flour
500ml beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
A few stalks fresh parsley
Salt and ground black pepper
400g mixed mushrooms
For the cobbler
180g self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
100g cheddar, grated
1 big handful chives, chopped
2 large eggs
70ml whole milk
Heat the butter in a big frying pan and brown the pancetta until the fat runs. Transfer to a casserole. In the same fat, gently fry the whole baby onions until lightly browned. Transfer to the casserole. Toss the beef in the flour, shake off any excess, then brown, in batches, transferring to the casserole when coloured. Pour some stout into the pan to deglaze it, then tip into the casserole, along with the remaining beer and enough stock to cover. Add the herbs, tied into a bouquet garni, and season. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and put on the lid. Place in the oven at 130C/250F/gas mark 1 for an hour and 45 minutes. Just before the time is up, raise the heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Sauté the mushrooms in butter until their moisture evaporates and they colour.
Sift the flour and salt, rub in the butter and stir in the cheese and chives. Whisk the eggs and milk, and stir into the flour mix - it should be fairly sloppy. Tip the mushrooms and their juices into the casserole, then drop spoonfuls of cobbler dough all over the top. Brush lightly with more milk and bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes until the cobbler is golden.
If I remember, I'll take some pictures of the result.
Update: It was delicious. Could have had something to do with the 250g of salt pork, but, boy. Really good. Now, must sleep.
Update 2: Dinner guest Kelly kindly captured the evening's proceedings!