So last weekend was the Belgian GP and I was away at a wedding. I didn’t get back home until the evening of the Sunday and so I missed the entire race. My partner however watched and enjoyed it, and gave me a blow by blow account of all the action when I got back. I’ve also co-opted him write the race report at the end of this post!
In addition to missing the race it was also too late to cook by the time I got home and so I cooked my meal on the Monday instead. This time out the meal was beef carbonnade with real chips and homemade mayo. This seemed like an unusual combination but I wanted to have both dishes so I thought I’d have a go.
Chips and mayo is an absolute favourite of mine, it’s also extremely popular in Belgium! I have never made real mayo before and thought this was the perfect excuse to have a go. Despite much browsing of the internet for tips and recipes I had no idea just how much work making mayonnaise would be.
I started off with two egg yolks, a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard and some salt. These were given a good whisking before any oil was added. The oil I had chosen to use was groundnut (peanut!) oil as this is pretty flavourless, I didn’t want the mayo to taste too much of the oil as can happen with olive oils etc. I started by adding single drops of oil to the egg mix and beating each in well. After about 5 minutes of this I felt confident enough to go for some slightly larger quantities of oil. All in all it took me 10 minutes to beat in 50ml of oil. By this time you could see that the mix was starting to change and look a bit like mayo.
Over another 10 minutes I incorporated another 125ml of the oil by which time the mixture was almost solid and my arm felt like it would fall off. The recipes I had seen used 200-250mls of oil for two yolks, but I found that 175ml was the absolute limit for mine, they must have been small! There was one more thing to add to finish the mayo and that was 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Once I had beaten this in the mixture slackened a bit to a more appetizing consistency and also lightened up looking more cream than yellow. The mayo was ready and it tasted amazing!
Beef carbonnade is a sweet sour beef dish made with beer. The process of making it was pretty similar to the goulash. First I browned 1.4kg of beef which had been cut into chunks before removing them and cooking 700g of sliced white onions in the pan. When the onion had softened a little I added 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 4 crushed garlic cloves and let everything cook some more.
After another 5 minutes I added 3 tablespoons of flour and then 600mls of beer. As with any wine, the quality is important. I used Chimay, which is a traditional Belgian beer brewed by monks. I don’t drink beer myself, but my partner got very excited when he found this in the shop so I knew it was good!
After adding the beer I returned the beef to the pan, added a bay leaf, a couple of springs of thyme and 300mls of beef stock. I then stirred everything, brought it to the boil, covered and put in the oven for 2 hours on 150C.
Half an hour before the beef was due to come out of the oven I started on the chips. There was no great skill involved in these, I peeled and chopped some potatoes and then deep fried them in hot oil for 15 minutes until they had started to colour and crisp up. Then I drained them on kitchen paper to get rid of the excess fat. I was then ready to serve up.
The sauce of the carbonnade was amazing despite the fact I realized that I had forgotten to add the sour element, some white wine vinegar! Unfortunately though the meat was tough. Unlike the meat I used for my goulash this was pre-cut and I don’t think the quality was as good. It was edible, but there was a lot of chewing involved and this let the rest of the meal down. The chips were lovely, as anything that is deep fried is, and the mayo was magnificent. It was definitely worth the effort!
The race itself was a mix of high triumph and disaster. After a chaotic first corner and the first outbreak this season of proper carbon fibre confetti, the young Mercedes driver Nico Rosburg managed to grab the lead from pole sitter Seb Vettel. But Vettel came back and re-took the lead. Then Lewis Hamilton had a massive collision with Kumai Kobashi, nosing into the wall at about 240km an hour, which unsurprisingly brought out the safety car. This allowed Vettel, having jumped everyone by pitting early, to get to the lead but it also brought Schumacher, who had started last, and Jenson Button back into the fray, allowing them to close up. Once the re-start, passing broke out throughout the field, and Button managed to come from 13th to 3th in the matter of twenty laps. Schumacher, pursuing him, managed to overtake his team-mate Nico Rosburg and grab a hard fought fifth. But Vettel, riding his Red Bull rocketship, pointed it at the horizon and was never really seen again, effectively wrapping up the 2011 World Championship. Everyone else’s opinion: He’s just too good.