“This was after stew. But then, so is everything. When the first man crawled out of the slime and went to make his home on land, what he had for dinner that night was stew.”
― William Goldman, The Princess Bride
When was the last time you watched The Princess Bride? If you’re anything like me, it’s been way too long since I’ve heard Wesley say, “As you wish” to Buttercup… I’m going to introduce my niece to it next time I see her in New Zealand. Any excuse to see it again. I love that movie!
And, I kind of love stew, too.
Stew is the ultimate in comfort food. Stew tastes better the second (or third) day after you’ve made it – when all the flavours have worked their collective magic. Stew can be served in a bowl (and I think food tastes better in a bowl). Stew is rustic and unpretentious but universally appreciated.
I have a basic recipe for The Easiest Stew in the World, which is just the ticket when you have the protein, and need a little help throwing together a simple-but-hearty number. This version, with the addition of fennel and olives is a teeny bit sexier! (Can stew be sexy?)
This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd – at least eight. If there are only one or two of you at your place, then it portions up beautifully and can be popped into the freezer for those nights you can’t face cooking.
Just perfect for watching the rugby on a cold winter’s evening!
- 2 tablespoons Cassava flour
- 2 kilos (4.5 pounds) cubed stewing beef
- 2 tablespoons tallow (or alternative happy fat like lard or coconut oil)
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 8 anchovies
- 2 cups bone broth
- 2 fennel large bulbs, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges. (Fronds sliced to serve as garnish)
- 40 kalamata olives
- Heat the oven to 160° C/ 320° F.
- Coat your diced beef in cassava flour. I find the best way to do this is to take a large plastic bag. Pop your meat and flour and about ¾ teaspoon salt into the bag. Seal and roll it all around until the meat is covered.
- Pop a heavy bottomed casserole dish over a medium-high heat (I use my le Creuset) and add a tablespoon of fat. Brown your meat in batches, setting aside in a bowl as each batch is nicely caramelised.
- When your meat is all browned and set aside, add a little more fat to the pan. Gently sauté the onions, garlic and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar to the pan and give everything a good stir.
- Now, add browned beef, thyme and anchovies. Stir.
- Add the bone broth and a good pinch of salt.
- Bring to a gentle boil, pop on a lid and place into the oven for three hours. Remove the thyme stalks.
- Add the olives to the dutch oven. Give the stew a stir before carefully pushing the fennel into the hot mixture. Place back in the oven for twenty minutes.
- Check the seasoning and serve spinkled with reserved fennel fronds.