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Red wine braised Cornish feather blade

As featured in the winter issue of Nansledan Life

A true winter warmer filling the home with a rich aroma of braised beef and earthy grilled swede, sure to induce broad smiles to arriving dinner party guests before they even gather to the table…

Ingredients for 8-10:

For the beef:

1x Trimmed whole feather blade of beef

Curing salt

2x Btl full-bodied, quality red wine, 1 bottle reduced by half, the other reserved for imbibing

1x Small bunch of thyme

3x Bay leaves

4x Cloves garlic

1x Carrot, chopped

1x White onion, chopped

2tbsp Tomato puree

80ml Cornish extra virgin rapeseed oil (Or extra virgin olive oil)

Freshly ground black pepper


Beef or chicken stock to cover (optional)

For the dumplings:

560gm Self-raising flour

340gm Minced suet

250gm Cold water

6tbsp Chopped herbs (Parsley/thyme/chives/rosemary etc)

Black pepper


For the garnish:

1 Large swede, peeled and sliced finger thick

4 Banana shallots, sliced lengthways (optional)

100gm Watercress (optional)


  1. Cure the feather blade lightly by covering evenly with curing salt for 8 hours. Rinse very well and pat dry. Season with freshly ground black pepper and rub with virgin oil.
  1. First ‘high heat sizzle’ the beef in a raging hot oven to ‘sear’ brown, then place all the ingredients bar the oil in a large, lidded casserole dish or well sealed baking tray with hot stock and braise in a medium oven for 3-4 hours until fully cooked. The inner central seam of the blade must be meltingly tender. Strain the stock and use for the gravy. Reserve the fat collected in the tray from the sizzle.
  2. Remove the blade from the casserole dish and slice into uniform ‘steaks’.
  3. Skim the stock of any fat and reduce to intensify the flavour. Mount with cold butter, use ‘beurre manie’, or a few cheeky tablespoons of your preferred gravy granules to thicken. Skip to step 10 in order to cook the dumplings at the same time.
  4. Brown the shallots face down in a hot non-stick pan with a bit of oil and roast in a hot oven until softened. Remove the skins.
  5. For the swede slices, toss well in the beef fat and season with black pepper and a little salt. The fat should be fairly salty already. Grill mark on a hot griddle and finish in a hot oven, roasting until softened.
  6. For the dumplings, combine the flour, salt, pepper and suet in a food processor to blitz to a breadcrumb like texture.
  7. Put the mix in a bowl and add your chosen chopped herbs. Stir in the water and incorporate into a firm dough. Weigh out into 80gm dumplings.
  8. Whilst reducing/thickening the gravy you can cook out the dumplings in the sauce on the hob, or for a better finish, in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes or so.

To serve:

Place a dumpling on each plate astride a slice of braised feather blade, stack up the grilled swede and sauce the lot with lashings of the red wine gravy. A few artfully stranded wisps of watercress will top off the proceedings and any remaining food should be heaped on a platter, centre of the table for seconds. Tipple is the other bottle of red wine, or two. A quality Pinot Noir would be ideal.


The cut: Feather sits on the side of the shoulder blade and when sliced looks like a feather with the nerve like the quill. Magical for braises, daubes and casseroles it also makes a fantastic fast frying steak if served rare. Whilst still fairly good value for money; the more that professional chefs heap praise, the more likely it is to rise in price.