Wednesday, 20 February 2008


A huge amount of diced beef in the fridge and my sister's point-blank refusal to eat stroganoff
inspired me to try making a stew. Being half Irish, I feel that stew-making is something that I'm supposed to know, intrinsically, how to do, but I always need some cook-book guidance.
Finding absolutely no help in any of the thousands of books scattered throughout the house, even from my favourite teacher Nige(l slater, apparently he just refuses to make them) and feeling thoroughly annoyed with all the chefs populating the kitchen in text form I decided to make it up as I went along. It was all fine in theory until I realised that you need about three hours to stew the meat properly and I had foolishly waited a while, being entirely unable to concentrate while masterchef is on (I am mesmerised by John and Greg's attempts to cram in fist-sized mouthfuls of dainty food).

* roll the meat in seasoned flour and fry in olive oil in a large deep frying pan. (The important thing is not to crowd the meat in - do it in small batches - otherwise, it will end up stewing in its own juices and not browning properly.) When browned remove from the pan.
*chop an onion into rough strips and cook in the left over oil and meat juices. When they are starting to brown, throw in some roughly chopped mushrooms and parsnips. As this is cooking put the meat back in and add some smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, crushed juniper berries and some thyme (sadly mine was very old and dried from the back of the fridge)
*as this starts to sizzle throw in a glass of red wine (I used a suspicious looking Taste the Difference Portugese wine that said "drink with stew" on its label.)
when the alcohol has cooked off add a pint of vegetable stock, put the lid on and let it sit there simmering for as long as you can bear. (this is where my crucial mistake was made)
I left it for an hour and a bit and was still quite tough so you probably need about 2 1/2 hours.
When ready to serve, add a small spoonful of sour cream to each plate.
Served with mum's favourite potato style (I bet some people don't even have a favourite potato style...) "Crusssshhed potatoes"
N.B if you are serving these you must use the most seductive voice possible.

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