Yesterday was a particularly chilly one, so we hit the marché for supplies, stopped at my favorite bakery for (a couple of) baguettes, and headed home to rustle up Jamie Oliver's Hearty Beef Stew.
We had initially contemplated three different recipes which I'd tracked down and sent along to John:
Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 – it depends on what cut of meat you're using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it's ready. Once it's cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 110°C/225°F/gas ¼ and just hold it there until you're ready to eat.
The best way to serve this is by ladling big spoonfuls into bowls, accompanied by a glass of French red wine and some really fresh, warmed bread. Mix the lemon zest, chopped rosemary and garlic together and sprinkle over the stew before eating. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference – as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance. (This is in red because it's a vital addition to the stew. Unbelievably bright and delicious, and so flavorful!)