Porter braised beef with cabbage and polenta

Photographer: Emma
Serves 6-8

For three years on this blog I’ve talked about myself through little food experiences so this month I’m trying something different. I’m dedicating this month to Jamie Oliver and telling you a different kind of story.

My boyfriend and I went for a long walk in the weekend and managed to fill the hour talking about Jamie O and what he began. I started watching him at around age 15 before my culinary training; Jamie taught me to snap the ends of the asparagus in the supermarket and only pay for the good bit, he showed me how to make pesto and he showed me how to roast a chicken.  Jamie made cooking cool and through his show and cookbooks demonstrated that it didn’t have to be fiddly and time consuming and blokes didn’t  have to loose their manhood. He influenced people to include foods like balsamic vinegar, pancetta and buffalo mozzarella in their weekly shopping and cook like chefs in their own kitchens.

Although not without controversy he’s akin to a modern-day hero by providing disadvantaged teenagers the same opportunity he had in the restaurant industry (Fifteen), taking fake fried meat and flavoured milk out of kids lunches (School Dinners) and explaining to people that a hot chip is not counted as a vegetable serving (The Food Revolution & The Ministry of Food).

Jamie O was my first love so at Whitcoulls book shop in Queen Street, Auckland, in the early 2ooo’s I was there, in line ready to meet him. I can remember having a plan, a plan to say “Jamie, you’ve inspired me to become a chef. Your food, especially your fish pie has changed my life”… but unfortunately my encounter didn’t quite go as planned. As soon as he said “hi babe, you aight?” I froze…and all I could think of was “he called me babe”. I replied with “yes, thanks” and that was it. Not long after this my sister had better luck – she chased him down in a Tesco supermarket and told him that her sister loved him. Gosh we sound like a family of stalkers.

This is recipe is inspired by Jamie O, it’s hearty and warming and perfect for sharing with people you love in this cold month of July.


For the beef:
2kg beef, cut into large squares (approximately 5cm x 5cm)
Oil for frying
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1L dark porter beer

For the cabbage:
1 red cabbage, finely sliced
4 tbsp seedless raisins
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper

For the polenta:
500g polenta
500ml water
Butter, cream, grated parmesan and salt and pepper


For the beef:
1. In a frying pan, heat oil and brown the beef.
2. In a slow cooker or oven dish add the beef, the chopped veges, bay leaf, chipotle peppers and beer.
3. Cover and roast for at least 3 hours.
4. If you are cooking in the oven, for the last 20 minutes of cooking take the lid off to reduce the liquid. If you are cooking in a slow cooker, once the beef is cooked drain the liquid into a sauce pan and reduce by half. Then add the liquid back to the meat.

For the cabbage:
1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and once hot, add the cabbage and fry for 3 minutes.
2. Add the balsamic, raisins, brown sugar and season with salt and pepper.

For the polenta:
1. Make the polenta as per the instructions on the packet.
2. For a creamier polenta whisk a knob of butter, cream or milk, grated parmesan and salt and pepper just before serving.