What is magical about it?
Magical Beef and Peas is magical because you can’t quite believe that it does what it does when it is the oven. It’s a mysterious chemical reaction I suppose. You put in a lump of meat that you have sealed, you add a whole bunch of fresh peas, some chopped garlic and maybe a chopped spring onion or two and that’s it. Nothing else, no extra liquid at all. And when you lift the lid four hours later… the cooking pot is full of juice and the meat is beautifully tender. If that isn’t magical, I don’t know what is! Add some salt and pepper and it’s totally gorgeous!
It is clearly something that is found in fresh peas – sorry, I’m not enough of a scientist to tell you what that is. (If you are a scientist and can tell me, please do! I really want to know! email@example.com.) I think it must be some sort of enzyme that breaks down the fibres of the meat. When you try doing this with frozen peas it doesn’t work at all. Any suggestions, I’m keen to hear!
Slow cooking is terrific – intense flavours and tender meat. Yum! Somehow it all seems wonderfully fuss-free too. Perhaps that’s because it’s being done so far ahead of time… Taking time over things is the most fantastic luxury and one of the best parts of cooking this dish for me is shelling the peas. I can remember when I was very small, sitting with my grandfather in the sun, shelling peas. I don’t think very many of them actually reached the kitchen. Certainly the ones that I podded flew around all over the place and were mostly eaten either by me or the dog.
It’s very important that the pot is well sealed before it goes into the oven. When we tested it we scrunched kitchen foil over the top of the casserole before putting on the lid.
Mashed potatoes or rice are great with this, as is orzo.