Monday, December 8, 2014

Back on the mainland, and hunkering down for the winter...

We have survived our adventures in London (sleeping on a HOUSEBOAT, staying up too late with old friends, eating an unseemly amount of fish & chips, visiting the truly spectacular Natural History Museum, exploring the design districts in Shoreditch, enjoying breakfast in the Victoria Park Pavilion) and have returned to our "normal" life in Paris.

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:

But after a brief conference, we unanimously agreed that "Easy" sounded the best! (In hindsight, I wonder if we were both subconsciously drawn to this recipe because Jamie calls it, "Jools's Favorite Beef Stew"...) Of course, no recipe is complete without me personalizing it a little, so I've included my changes-- shown in red-- in the recipe below. This is a super simple, incredibly delicious, 100% satisfying dinner; but one small note... Jamie says this recipe serves 4, but I think that's only if you're a family of buffalo. John and I both ate two servings last night, and there's enough left over that we're probably eating it again for dinner tomorrow night, with friends! I would say "serves 6-8" is more accurate, so you could halve the recipe if that's over-kill for your needs. 

  • olive oil
  • 1 knob butter I skipped the butter & doubled-up on oil 
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 handful fresh sage leaves
  • 800 g quality stewing steak or beef skirt, cut into 5cm pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • flour, to dust
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered I love a veggie-filled stew, so I did 3 parsnips...
  • 4 carrots, peeled and halved ...And 6 carrots. 
  • ½ butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced
  • 1 handful Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and halved, optional These shouldn't be considered optional. They add a sensational, nutty, aromatic flavor to the whole dish. And we probably used two handfuls. 
  • 500 g small potatoes We went light on the potatoes, probably about 250 grams. 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • ½ bottle red wine maybe a little more-- like 2/3s...
  • 285 ml organic beef or vegetable stock And I doubled this to accommodate my extra veggies... 
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 handful rosemary, leaves picked
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/300ºF/gas 2. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole pan. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3 or 4 minutes. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, and gently stir together. 

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!) 

**Jamie's note from his website: The great thing about this stew is that it gets put together very quickly, and this is partly to do with the fact that no time is spent browning the meat. Even though this goes against all my training, I experimented with two batches of meat – I browned one and put the other straight into the pot. The latter turned out to be the sweeter and cleaner-tasting, so I've stopped browning the meat for most of my stews these days.

No comments:

Post a Comment