JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Beef and prune stew

Last weekend, we had all of Lucius's colleagues and their families to lunch. 18 of us. Two tables, one for adults, one for children, presided over by Lettice, who was the only one of our four at home. Lucius said we should have stew, and this is what I made, slightly adapted from Tamasin Day-Lewis's Good Tempered Food. Next time I'd leave out the prunes, as the children didn't like them, and I thought they distracted from the rich tastes created by so many spices.

The amounts given here are from the original recipe, which she says does four. I multiplied by four, and there was tons left over (v useful in the freezer, we've already eaten some with another set of friends).

350-400g soft prunes, soaked in orange juice for a few hours
1kg chuck beef, cubed
4 medium onions

1 tsp each of:
coriander seeds
cumin seeds
dried ginger

2 pieces of orange peel
2 bay leaves
stock or water

Slice the onions and soften in olive oil in a heavy casserole pan. Chop a little celery and some garlic, and cook with the onions for a minute or two. Add 2-3 tablespoons of flour. Add the meat (I do not bother to brown it, but if this is something you always do, then go for it). Dry fry the seeds and bash them in a mortar with the cinnamon and ginger (TDL is a purist, and does all four, but I am not, and it still tasted good). Chuck in all the spices, not forgetting the cayenne (you can put less of this, but, even if you don't like hot food, do put some in, because it really does add a depth of flavour). Add the drained prunes, orange peel and bay, and just cover with stock or water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for about an hour and a half.

This is better made the day before, so that the flavours can settle, and so that you can remove any fat that has risen to the surface and solidified. Serve with some chopped coriander or parsley, and harissa, which you can buy in the supermarket. TDL gives a recipe for it, and I will try it one day, but not when there are 18 people coming to lunch!

I served this with mashed potato, delicious canneloni beans (this season's - I bought them in France at half term, and they are so fresh they don't need soaking before cooking) which I strewed with herbs from the garden (sage, thyme, some tarregon which was particularly good), kale, and frozen peas, which were by special request of Lettice.

No comments: