Bartlemas Beef

Very little is known about St Bartholomew who is listed in the Bible as being one of the twelve apostles. It is suggested that he preached in Asia Minor, northern India, and in Armenia, where he was flayed alive and then beheaded. Someone with a somewhat macabre sense of humour decided that this was a basis for him to be named as the patron saint of tanners.

But on a brighter note, St Bartholomew’s Day is celebrated on 24 August and historically seems to have been a popular day for summer fayres of all descriptions around the British Isles. To this day children run the St Bartholomew's Bun Race at St Bartholomew's Hospital in Sandwich. Once they have run around the hospital chapel each receives a currant bun. The accompanying adult receives a St Bart's Biscuit, impressed with a copy of the hospital's ancient seal.

Another traditional recipe for St Bartholomew's Day is Bartlemas Beef. We tried this a few months ago and it got the thumbs up from the “Official taster”. I was doubtful when I started cooking it but it really was very good. It produces its own gravy which is very tasty and not as rich as I thought it was going to be.

Ingredients - serves 4

1lb (450g) braising steak, cubed ½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg ½ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon  


  1. Mix the ground spices together in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add the cubed beef stirring to ensure that the meat is covered with the spices.
  3. Place mixture into a casserole dish and cover with water.
  4. Cover and cook at 170ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3 for approx two hours checking towards the end of cooking time that there is still adequate liquid.
  5. When meat is tender serve with a mustard mash and seasonal vegetables.


cubed beef