Freezes well.

Serves 6-8

This smoky beef braise is a winner and was a favourite with the Modern Mess members last year. I originally made it to use up turnips and pumpkin in my weekly vegetable box. It takes a bit of time in the oven but makes a lot and freezes well. Perhaps make it on the weekend and just reheat during the week for a quick meal. You could also try it in the slow cooker (see notes below) , though I prefer the flavour of cooking it in the oven.

The cornbread is a bit of fun, delicious toasted with butter too!  Any leftover beef makes a great addition to a quesadilla.


800g 1kg chuck beef, diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
500g pumpkin, diced –  replace this for sliced capsicums when not in season
200g turnips halved or use potatoes, parsnips, swede or kumara
3 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 dried chipotle chillies ( I used Tio Pablo brand from the supermarket) You could use 1-2 tinned chipotle chillies in adobe sauce – they are significantly spicier so just adjust to suit
2 tins tomatoes or 1 x 680g jar passata
500ml beef or vegetable stock
1 T maple syrup
1 T red wine vinegar
1 cinnamon quill or half a tsp of cinnamon
2 squares 70% dark chocolate
1-2 tin of black beans, rinsed

Coriander to serve


Season the beef, toss with oil and brown well in a pan in two batches. Remove and set aside.

Add some more oil if needed and add in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes until soft. Add the browned meat back in and add the spices and stir to coat.

Add the remaining ingredients ,except the black beans and chocolate and bring to a simmer.

Transfer to an oven proof dish with a lid (if not already in one) and cook at 140 for about 2.5 hours until the beef is very tender. Add in the drained black beans in the last half and hour. Depending on the dish you’re cooking it in, you might need to add more liquid. The vegetables breakdown and help thicken the sauce. If you do this in a slow cooker, I would reduce the added liquid by half and then reduce it at the end if needed.

Add the chocolate and stir to melt.Season the beef braise to taste and serve with the cornbread.

I topped ours with pickles (or use jalapenos), a little yoghurt or sourcream and some Chipotle Tabasco. You can rest the braise with the lid on while you cook the cornbread or alternatively cook it in advance and re heat gently on the stove.

A note on heat…

The dried chipotle chillies aren’t that hot but add a nice flavour so my kids are fine with them with an added dollop of yoghurt on top. I do like spicy food so I might add in a chopped chipotle chilli in adobe sauce in after I take theirs out. Also I’m quite a fan of the Chipotle Tabasco on top!


Serves 6-8


125g flour or use GF flour mix
150g fine polenta/cornmeal (not instant)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 small onion, diced
250g plain yoghurt
1 egg
4 T olive oil
4 T or ¼ cup milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or any vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 T maple syrup

½ cup or so grated cheese for the top (optional) Feta is also nice. Corn and diced fresh or pickled jalapenos make a great addition too.


Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Place in a lined loaf tin or 24cm cast iron skillet and top with cheese if using and bake for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees or until a skewer comes out clean.

You could try cooking in muffin tins too if you’re short on time. Check them after 10-15 minutes. I have also made this in a cast iron skillet, which gave it  great crust.

You could also add chopped jalapenos, crumbled feta and corn kernels (when in season) into the mix too.

Edit: FEB 2021
Saute the onion and the kernels from 2 cobs of corn in the 3 T of oil in the recipe. Scrape into batter and then pour back into a 24cm cast iron pan. Top with feta and jalapenos and bake for 20-22 minutes at 200 degrees or until set. 2-4 T chopped coriander is also a great addition.