Beef olives have been around in Britain for centuries, but not these particular ones obviously. Categorically nothing to do with olives, the name remains something of a mystery; possibly something to do with the almost-resemblance to a stuffed olive. Looking at it end on at least.
A favourite in Scotland where the weather can be particularly harsh, beef olives are a warming and comforting dish of beef ham (that's thinly sliced beef to those of you who are not Scots) wrapped around a savoury stuffing of sausage-meat. Slow-braised in stock and vegetables, the tender meat is traditionally served with mashed potato and the juice thickened to make a gravy.
The proper way to cook a beef olive (missing out the part where you make the stuffing and wrap it yourself) is slowly. First, you toss the beef olives in seasoned flour and brown them in a hot frying pan with a little oil. After the beef olives are transferred to a baking dish, brown your mirepoix in the same oil with pinch of salt. Mirepoix is the classic French base of onion, celery and carrot; in this case, very finely diced. A small amount of beef stock goes into the pan, any bits stuck to the bottom are scraped in, and the whole lot poured over the top of the beef olives. Only about a centimetre of liquid up the sides of the dish is required. Cover with foil and leave in a cool-ish (150C/Gas 2) oven for roughly 90 minutes. By which time they will be beautifully tender. If the cooking liquid is not thick enough for your liking, mix a teaspoon of flour with a teaspoon of melted butter (known as beurre manie) and whisk into the boiling liquid over a medium heat. Continue whisking and it will very quickly thicken.
Beef olives do not need to take 90 minutes. You can bake them, still covered with a little liquid, for about 30 minutes and they will be tender enough with a few minutes rest. You can also pan fry them, adding a splash of liquid and covering the pan for the final twenty minutes or so.
Try our beef olive recipes for something a little different.
Italian braised beef olives with Parmesan crumb or, if you are watching your weight, Skinni beef olives with mushroom gravy. Of course, with a few tweaks you could choose either recipe to suit your needs.
Our beef olives are made from thinly sliced topside of Scotch beef wrapped around our steak sausage. We also do a very popular Skinni version.