Stuffed Beef Rolls (Beef Olives) in Red Wine and Shallot Sauce
Well, what could be nicer? Food of the gods, as my butcher described it, which he would of course. (Thanks, Mark, from Axons of Didsbury!) Thin slices of beef, wrapped round a herby moist filling, cooked in red wine and shallot sauce, served with mashed potatoes. Really, a meal for the winter tummy, comforting, warming, friendly, and filling. But actually, not too filling, although you couldn’t describe it as low calorie or diet fare. You aren’t eating huge pieces of meat here, a little goes a long way. And it’s nothing to do with olives, whatever the name.
This is a highly tolerant dish, you can leave it in the oven a bit longer if you’re waiting for the gang to come home from football. You can make it ahead of time and then put it in the oven with the sauce warmed up when you’re ready to cook. It’s also elegant enough for a dinner party, maybe with lyonnaise potatoes or croquettes to add to the elegance if your party is too posh for mash. (impossible, surely?)
Serves 4. Timings: 1 hour preparation, 2 hours in the oven.
For the stuffing:
For the sauce:
Start the sauce: fry the chopped shallots in a heavy saucepan for a few minutes until softened. Add the crushed garlic and fry for another minute, stirring well. Add the red wine, bring the pan to the boil and let it reduce by about 1/3 – should take about 10 minutes boiling. When it has reduced, add the beef stock and marmite, the bay leaves and the sprigs of thyme (you can use ½ teaspoon dried thyme if you don’t have fresh) and boil again for another 10-15 minutes. You should end up with a glossy liquid sauce, not thickened, but with a great deep taste.
Meanwhile, get on with the stuffing:
In a medium frying pan, fry the bacon pieces till crisp. Put aside on kitchen paper to drain. Add the chopped onions and the stick of celery to the frying pan and fry for a few minutes to soften them.
If you are making your own breadcrumbs for the stuffing, put your stale bread in the bowl of your blender with the parsley, and let the blender chop both together. Put the green breadcrumbs in a bowl – or add the breadcrumbs from a packet (proper sized breadcrumbs not the coloured dust in the cardboard drum you get for fish) and add the chopped parsley.
Add the bacon to the breadcrumbs. Add the butter to the pan of onions, let it melt and fry a bit more, then scrape the whole contents of the frying pan into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the suet and the mustard powder, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Now assemble the rolls:
Lay out each beef slice on a level surface. Cut some cooking string to have ready. You need 3 pieces per beef roll, two shorter pieces to go round the middle of the roll and one longer one to tie top to bottom of the roll. Cut them a bit longer than you think you need, as you can always cut the dangly ends off, but you can’t make them longer!
Lay stuffing out thinly on the beef slice – firm it down with a spoon. Don’t put the stuffing too close to the edges as you want to make a sealed parcel. (Well, sealed-ish, there is no such thing as perfection in a tied beef roll, and if you try to achieve it, you might drive yourself mad. Good enough will do!) Then roll up the beef slice from the longest end, tucking in the sides as you go. The beef is quite obliging, and will hold itself together quite nicely. Put the roll down on the pieces of string you have laid out ready and tie up quite firmly. Snip off the flappy end of the strings. Do the same for all your pieces of meat. I tried to get one parcel per person as that makes a nice thick roll which holds together well in the sauce, but if your parcels are smaller because of the way the beef was cut, that’s not the end of the world, you just have a bit more rolling and tying to do. If you have stuffing left over, it will keep in a sealed box in the fridge for a few days until you find a small chicken to use it up in.
In the pan where you cooked your onions, put a little more cooking oil and fry the beef parcels until the outside is brown and coloured, don’t overdo it, just a little colour.
By this time, your sauce will be done. Taste it and season if it needs it – probably won’t after all that reducing.
Put the beef rolls in a casserole dish which takes them all in one layer and pour the sauce over. Remove the bay leaves and the thyme twigs as you go.
Cover the dish and place in a low oven, 160°C for up to 2 hours. Just keep it covered so the beef rolls don’t dry out on their topsides. When you want to eat, lift each beef parcel out of the sauce and snip away the string with sharp scissors (not blunt ones like I always seem to struggle with). The parcels will keep their shape now.
Serve with creamy mashed potato to go with the rich and glorious sauce, and a plain steamed green vegetable such as purple sprouting broccoli.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.