I mentioned yesterday that I had a stew bubbling away on the stove. To be more specific it was a boeuf bourguignon and it was gooood. I love a nice stew, I love the heartiness and the warmth and the comfort, I love that by bubbling away for a few richly fragrant hours they can turn a cheap cut of meat into something delicious. They are one of the few good things about winter. And this one is ridiculously easy. You don't have to do any of the more involved cooking that stews normally require (browning the meat, cooking down the onions, not crowding the mushrooms - love you Julia!) and it still tastes great. Yes, I am sure all of those things make for stew nirvana and there is a time and a place for that but this recipe makes for a very yummy, very edible everyday stew with an awful lot less time and energy required.
The recipe is adapted from Delia's How to Cheat at Cooking, which I think is an excellent if deeply flawed cookbook. The time-saving 'cheats' are either ridiculous or unnecessarily expensive. Ridiculous: ready-prepared diced vegetables, 'tinned chunky chicken in white sauce' (seriously!), frozen mashed potato tubes. Unnecessarily expensive: peppers in oil, onions in oil, ready-prepared spice mixes, pre-cut puff pastry rounds. There is quite a lot of overlap between ridiculous and over-priced and there are plenty more examples but I'm sure you get the point. But but but but if you ignore the 'cheats' and replace them with the normal ingredients then there are loads of great recipes...
(I didn't get a picture of my stew and, to be honest. it isn't a very photogenic dish so I thought that I would tastelessly put up this lovely picture of the main ingredient instead... Image source)
- 500g cubed braising beef
- 200g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
- 110g (or approx in my case) of quartered mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2 medium onions, peeled, halved and sliced. [Delia uses one onion and 180g 'borettane onions in balsamic vinegar' which may well be very nice but is also rather more expensive.]
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 heaped tbspn plain flour
- 425ml red wine. [Delia specifies Burgundy.]
- If you are doing this in the oven then preheat to 140oC, I do mine on the hob so don't need to worry about that kind of thing.
- Put the first 8 ingredients in your cassoulet (or saucepan - I got a le Creuset for my birthday which I love but I used to make this in a standard saucepan and it always worked fine). Just wack 'em in.
- Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients and toss together.
- Pour in the wine and stir. This will be looking pretty gross by now but just ignore that, it will get better!
- Pop in the oven/turn on the hob and leave to bubble gloriously for 3+ hours. Obviously the longer you leave it the more delicious it will be. Stir occasionally.
- Pick out twigs. Eat.
I ate mine with Pepper & Dijon Mustard Mash (normally use wholegrain mustard in my mash but didn't have any, this was a nice twist) and some vair lightly boiled cabbage for greenery. Was hearty and good. And there is plenty left for tonight and it will have matured into something even more delicious. Excellent.