Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday Supper on Monday Night

I like to know what I am going to have for dinner early in the day, so I can think about it, look forward to it, and get hungry for it. But the problem with that is that sometimes it doesn't work out the way I'd hoped and then I'm disappointed and unable to get hungry for anything else. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday. After spending the afternoon at the movies and then the park, when we returned home at around 5 p.m. I was planning on whipping up a beef stew. Unfortunately, I had anticipated only 2 hours of cooking time, not the four allotted by the recipe, and so I had to make adjustments in the menu...which was rapidly shaping up to be leftovers (yuck) or takeout. We ended up throwing together a mish-mash of leftovers from the fridge and got some takeout for me, because I was in no mood for leftovers...and we did not quite have the happy Sunday supper that I'd envisioned. Oh well, such is life.

So we will have the stew tonight, another rushed meal due to the soccer season that refuses to die. But the good news is that this stew is really fast to throw together, mostly because the meat does not require browning. Although I am highly suspicious that the stew might suffer in flavor because of that, Jamie Oliver (whose recipe it is) swears that this is not so..he even made it each way to make sure. Another great thing about this meal is that it can sit in a warm oven after it has finished cooking, waiting patiently until we are ready to eat it. Perhaps it's fate that we are having this on a weeknight. After all, it is only midday and I am finished cooking dinner! All I have to do now is heat up some rolls and toss a quick salad.

This delicious looking one-pot meal, contains so many interesting "veg" as the Brits like to call it; butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes, which I have never prepared or eaten as far as I know, but are the roots of a type of sunflower that do indeed taste like artichoke). It also contains a good amount of wine and fresh sage and is topped with a gremolata (freshly chopped garlic, parsley and lemon peel) after it is scooped into the serving bowls. The beauty of stew in general is that it uses what ingredients are at hand, can take a fair amount of fiddling to accommodate tastes, and can be as simple or elaborate as you desire and based on what is available seasonally.

Hearty Beef Stew

serves 4-6

1 onion, chopped
handful fresh sage leaves
olive oil & butter
4 carrots, peeled and halved
2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
3 sunchokes, peeled and halved
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
2 pounds beef chuck or other stewing beef, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 handfuls of flour, salt and pepper
2 T tomato puree
1/2 bottle of red wine
1 1/4 C beef or vegetable stock
1 garlic clove
handful parsley
zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drizzle olive oil and toss a pat of butter in large Dutch oven and saute onion and sage over medium low heat until soft. Toss beef with seasoned flour in a zip top bag. Add to pot along with the vegetables, tomato puree, wine and stock. Gently stir to combine. Bring to a boil and place into the oven to bake for 3-4 hours. Meat should be soft and falling apart. Stew can be kept warm in a 225 degree oven until ready to eat. Serve with crusty bread and a simple salad. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle on finely minced garlic, parsley and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

1 comment:

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