Monday, 14 January 2008

In a Stew

This week so far (she says!) has been one of those "look in the kitchen and see" times, as far as meal planning goes. On Sunday, I used the Swiss chard that came in last week's vegetable box to make a risotto, adding the chopped stems early on and the shredded leaves towards the end of cooking. Risotti are a great way of making a hearty meat-free meal, especially good for us as we often get just a small amount of a reasonably unusual vegetable in the weekly box. Not enough to be a side dish, but just enough to play the lead in a risotto or pasta sauce. Last week I made a variation on my Broccoli and Blue Cheese Pasta, using a titchy head of Romanesco, or Fractal broccoli (a name I adore), for the boys' and my lunch.

Today, with Chris at school, James and I were in town visiting a friend, so before we went out I got a stew together in the slow cooker. There was a lovely 450g piece of braising steak still in the freezer from my trip to the farmers' market in Aberystwyth so I defrosted that last night.

Beef Stew with Bacon, Red Wine and Rosemary

450g braising steak
2 onions

200g bacon
leaves from a large sprig of rosemary
red wine, 600ml or so

6-8 mushrooms (optional)

Peel, halve and slice the onions. Put them in the bottom of the slow cooker. Chop the bacon, slice the beef and add to the pot. Scatter over the finely chopped rosemary and add seasoning. Bring the wine to the boil on the hob and pour it over the ingredients, then put on the lid and slow-cook. I put it on MEDIUM just before lunch, then we had dinner at six. Slice and add the mushrooms an hour or so before you want to eat (or leave them out entirely if it's easier, timewise).

I made some mash with half potatoes, half parsnips and steamed the rest of the winter greens. To be honest, the stew would be fab with some thick slices of bread, but my Hub is a bit of a meat and two veg man, and especially likes a trad plate of stew, mash and greens.

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