Thursday, 31 March 2011

Beef and Butternut Stew

I have realised that if nothing else, this blog is a shocking testimony to my sweet tooth. Looking over the ratio of sweet to savoury recipes I don’t think I’d be able to convince anyone that I’d choose… um… I don’t know … say steak over cake. Though I might, if I was in the mood. So it is about time I increased the number of savoury recipes here, and this is a first step in that direction. The flavours in this stew are inspired by a stew that I had on Crete, stifado, though I’ve changed the main ingredients somewhat. You can use quite tough meat for this as it will soften during the long cooking time. This makes enough for 3-4 people, depending on how hungry they are! Don’t be daunted by the length of the ingredient list – this really only needs a bit of time at the beginning to brown various things and mix it all together and then the oven does all the work. And if you have leftovers, be very happy … like most things cooked with tomatoes, this tastes that even better the next day.

What you’ll need:

600-700 grams of beef (depending on how much is in the pack you buy!)

3 large onions

3 cloves garlic

1 medium to large butternut squash

Olive oil

Generous sprinkle of dried rosemary

3 bay leaves

1 stick cinnamon

5 cloves

A 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 dessertspoons of tomato puree

1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in a litre of boiling water

1 small glass red wine

Dash of black pepper

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3.

2. Chop the onion (it doesn’t have to be too fine) and garlic and fry in a glug of olive oil. When the onion and garlic is done pop it into a casserole dish.


3. Chop the beef into chunks of about 1 inch by 1/2 inch. Add a bit more olive oil to the same frying pan as you fried the onions and garlic in and then brown the beef. When it is done, add the browned beef to the casserole dish.

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3. Chop the butternut into chunks of about the same size as the beef. Add another glug of olive oil to the frying pan and brown the butternut cubes. Add these to the casserole dish as well.


4. Add all the rest of the ingredients (from dried rosemary down) to the casserole dish. I dissolved my stock cube in a litre of boiling water but couldn’t fit all the water into my casserole dish without causing a mini flood so just added as much as I could – probably about 800 mls of water. Mix everything together gently. At this point your kitchen may already be smelling delicious, but you’re going to have to wait a few hours…

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5. Put the stew into the middle of the pre-heated oven, uncovered, for about four hours (or more if you like). Give it a stir round every so often whilst it is cooking and add more water if necessary. I didn’t add extra water and so my ‘stew’ ended up more like mush, but it was very tasty mush so neither J nor I minded. When the stew is cooked, serve with greens and fresh bread.


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