Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cooking Casebook: Beef stew

I admit, sometimes it can be quite a drag to have to cook almost every day for the family. It is hot, hard work, which is not made any easier when you have to walk around with a toddler glued to your leg. But then, there are days where I see this, and all the (literal) sweating over our meals doesn't seem that bad after all:

The hubs was around that evening, and had brought the kids to the playground. Upon returning home, the boys ran into the house, sniffed the air, and asked me "what is that yummy smell?". And they all ran to the oven, and spent the next 10 minutes just inhaling the amazing aroma of the beef stew that was slowly simmering away inside. Seeing them standing at the oven reminded me of why I cook: because food can be a love language, and it is another way of showing my family that I care.

Anyway, this is our go-to recipe when I want a hearty beef stew. It is adapted from this recipe by Jamie Oliver, and this is easy to prep if you have a French oven, since it can go from stove top to oven and everything is cooked in one pot. It's also freezer friendly too!

(Serves 6)

2 onions, diced
1/2 a butternut squash, deseeded and chopped into large pieces
5 carrots, chopped into 1 inch thick slices
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into halves or quarters
1 kg of stewing steak, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 cup of red wine
2 cups of beef/vegetable stock
1 knob of butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
4 tbsp tomato puree
A few sprigs of fresh sage, leaves plucked
A few sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested (optional)
Olive oil
Black pepper
Sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 160ÂșC.

2. Heat a little olive oil and the butter in a cast iron pot (we use our 26 cm Le Creuset French oven) on medium heat.

3. When the butter has melted, add the onion and sage leaves. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Season the meat with salt and black pepper, toss the meat in flour, and add it to the pot. Fry for another 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add the squash, tomato puree, wine and stock, and stir. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

6. Bring the ingredients to a boil, cover the pot, and place it in the oven for 3 hours. At the 2 hour mark, give the stew a stir and add a little water if you find that the stew is drying out.

7. After 3 hours, add the potatoes and carrots, stir, and return the pot to the oven. (Again, if you think the stew is too dry, add some water.) Continue cooking, covered for another hour. (We like our potatoes and carrots with some "bite", hence we add them much later. Should you prefer them softer, add them in at the 2 hour mark.)

8. Mix the lemon zest, chopped rosemary and minced garlic. Sprinkle over the stew before serving. We love having this stew with garlic bread, or slices of baguette on the side. Sometimes we mix in some cooked pasta.

1. We use our Le Creuset French oven to cook this, as it allows us to cook everything in one pot. The lid helps to seal in the flavours during the cooking process, and washing up is much simpler with just one pot!

2. You can try adding slices of sweet potato along with the carrots and potatoes. It helps to add sweetness and flavour to the stew.

3. This stew is freezer friendly, but the potatoes and carrots can become mushy after defrosting. As such, it might be better to just freeze the meat and the stew, and add fresh veggies when cooking a frozen batch.

PS: This post is the third in a series of posts written in collaboration with Le Creuset Singapore. We were sponsored products for purpose of these posts (but this French oven was our first ever cast iron pot that we purchased, way before this collaboration), and no monetary compensation was received.

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