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Languedoc beef stew with red wine, olives and slow-roasted carrots
Prepare for the dark nights ahead with this comforting French beef stew
When did you last have a stew or a casserole in a restaurant? They seem to have given up on anything slow-cooked these days which doesn’t make sense to me given that they involve no last minute prep.
Maybe too much wastage? Not, I’d have thought if they serve it as a plat du jour on a WIGIG (when it’s gone it’s gone) basis.
People don’t have time - or think they don’t have time* - to make their own these days so would appreciate it I’d have thought.
*actually it doesn’t take that long and then you just leave it to bubble away. If you’re not making it for a crowd you can freeze portions to cheer you up on the dark nights ahead.
Anyway if you want to take the matter into your own hands here is one of my favourite recipes from my book Wine Lover’s Kitchen although the photo above is from its first outing in a small book I wrote called Cooking with Wine.
I used to make it when we spent a lot of time down in the Languedoc where cheap wine was easy to come by. Given the day job I obviously still have a fair amount of wine at home but there are good inexpensive bottles to make it with if you don’t. (Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Languedoc red which is normally £8.50 but currently with 25% off if you buy any six bottles being a case in point at £6.38 although their House Rioja at £5.50 would be fine).
My key tip is to add a good dash of wine at the end to bring lift the flavour which tends to get lost in the long slow cooking time.
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1 kg/2 1/4lb) thickly sliced braising steak
25g/3 tbsp plain flour
5-6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp tomato purée/paste
300ml/1 1/4 cups full-bodied Languedoc or other southern French red + an extra dash at the end
125 ml/1/4 cup beef stock
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
1 finely pared strip of orange peel
2 bay leaves
100g/1 cup pitted black olives (preserved in oil rather than brine)
3 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional, if you mind your food being brown which I don’t really)
Sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the slow-roasted carrots
500g/18oz carrots, peeled
A pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
You will also need a cast-iron casserole and a shallow ovenproof dish.
Trim any excess fat from the beef then cut the meat into large cubes. Put the flour in a shallow dish and season it well with salt and pepper. Dip the cubes of beef in the flour to coat.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan/skillet, add the beef and fry on all sides until it is browned. You will need to do this in batches, adding extra flour as you go. Transfer the beef to a medium-sized cast-iron casserole.
Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan/skillet over a low heat, add the onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, cook for a minute then the tomato purée/paste and cook for a minute more. Add the wine, stock, herbs de Provence, orange zest and bay leaves. Bring to the boil then pour the sauce Into the casserole and mix through the meat. Bring back up to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 2 1/2-3 hours until the meat is completely tender. Check the contents of the casserole gently to ensure there is enough liquid, adding a little more stock or water if it needs it.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. About two thirds of the way through the cooking time, prepare the slow-roasted carrots. Cut the carrots into long thick, diagonal slices. Put the carrots into a shallow ovenproof dish, pour over the oil, season with salt and cayenne pepper and toss well. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the carrots are soft and edges caramelised.
About 30 minutes before the stew is cooked add the olives then just before serving add an extra dash of wine and heat through. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the orange peel and add the parsley if using. Serve with the slow-roasted carrots and some mash or sauté potatoes.
You can of course, leave it till the following day in which case add the extra slosh of wine when you reheat it.
What to drink: We used to drink the local Faugères with it but other Languedoc reds like Corbières, Minervois or a good Côtes du Rhône would be fine.