Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Let the stew season commence!

Today has seen the "official opening" of my annual stew and casserole season! I love stews because they are comforting, economical and, above all, really easy to make: you can knock them up with really hardly any preparation - and after that, the oven does all the work! I also tend to cook a lot of stews which are done in two stages: you prepare and marinate your meat at leisure the day/night before, shove it in the fridge and then do the rest the next day - how easy is that? Stews are also the ideal dinner/lunch party food because they are even better when prepared a day (or two or three) in advance as the flavours just keep improving in the fridge - that means your main course is done and dusted before you even enter the kitchen on the day!

So this year I'm kicking off with a Caribbean-style beef and rum casserole. You might recoil in disbelieving horror when you look at the ingredients: beef with - a giant glass of rum, three limes and soy sauce?? But trust me - it all comes together in the most amazing culinary marriage (and the rum-my smells emanating from the oven during cooking are wonderfully homely.) You DO need to serve it with a "sweet" side though to get the ultimate flavour combination on your plate - if you haven't got/can't get pumpkin/squash, sweet potatoes are another great option (oven-roasted or mashed).

1,5 kg stewing steak
2 tbs seasoned flour
4 tbs olive oil
3 medium onions
4 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 ts dried oregano (or a few fresh sprigs if you have them)
400 ml beef stock (from a stock cube)

1 or 2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced (or only half of one - as I (wimpishly) do)
finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes
250 ml dark rum
1tbs dark soy sauce
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs crushed black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 ts dried oregano (or a few fresh sprigs if you have them)

Oven-baked squash:
4 tbs olive oil
1 small(ish) squash or pumpkin
a generous grating of nutmeg

Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces and put them in a deep, non-metallic dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and pour over the beef. Toss well to coat. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160°.

Chop the onions and garlic. Sweat them off in in a large frying pan with a tbs of the olive oil until soft. Transfer to a casserole.

Drain the beef (reserving the marinade) and put into a plastic (ziplock) bag. Add the flour, seal tightly and shake to coat evenly.

Heat more of the oil and fry off half of the beef. It doesn't have to be browned completely - just cooked through. Repeat with the rest of the meat and add to the casserole. Add the bay leaves and oregano.

Pour the reserved  marinade and the stock into the pan, bring to the boil and stir to de-glaze the pan juices. Pour  into the casserole and stir to combine. Put the lid on and bring to the boil. Transfer to the oven and cook for three hours.

Cut into large cubes and toss with the olive oil and nutmeg in a roasting tin. Add to the oven after 2 hours.

(Serves four)

I like to cook my stews gently at a low temperature. But there's absolutely nothing wrong if you're pushed for time to increase to 180° for two hours. (I would, however, never cook casseroles above that temperature).


  1. Hi Gigi,

    Welcome to the bloggers' world. We have a couple of bloggers here in Schaerbeek, and we meet regularly. If interested, let me know. Happy Blogging

    1. Thank you - that's excellent to hear! Please do send my the "Schaerbeek Bloggers" links!

  2. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe at Tasty Tuesday~ Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines