It may have something to do with the fact that I recently watched Julie/Julia and have just read the book as well that the desire for some Frenchiness has slipped into my cooking.
My mum, the queen of home cooking, in my eyes, had a French background and I've always loved the language as well as the food.
Normally, I'm not one to use a recipe when I make a stew, but today I wanted a particular flavour, orange and red wine in my beef casserole. Deciding to cook it very slowly in the oven, it definitely called for serious contemplation. None of the recipes I looked at were quite what I wanted, so I did my own thing, and here it is:
Boeuf avec l'orange
1 - 1.5 kg beef, large dice (mine was already diced, supermarket stuff, and a bit too small)
1/2 cup or so of olive oil (yes, it's a lot, but there's no fat left on the meat, and you need it to keep the meat moist)
salt and pepper
Coat beef in the oil and add salt and pepper. Be generous with the seasoning as there is no other seasoning in the dish.
Heat a large non stick frying pan until very hot. Put small amounts of meat into pan and let brown on one side. Toss around for a minute or so and place oven-proof casserole. (I use a Scanpan Dutch Oven). Repeat with remaining meat in small batches until all meat is browned.
1.5 cups red wine
1 cup water
Juice and rind of one orange
Take the pan off the heat and deglaze with red wine. Add water, rind and juice and cook down until reduced by half. Pour over the meat.
2 onions, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 sage leaves
Put onions over the top of the meat with the herbs.
2 heaped Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 heaped Tbsp plain flour
Mix together and smoosh over the onions, then stir in (so no lumps form).
Cook in a slow oven, 150 degrees C for two and a half hours. Check for tenderness of meat. Some meat may need another half hour or so.
I would much rather use gravy beef for this, but stewing steak was all I had in the freezer. Pan frying the meat prior to cooking slowly really adds colour and delicious flavour to any meat. It's definitely worth the mess and the smoke! I just open all the doors and windows.
I didn't take a photo of my dinner plate, but the stew was a wonderful rich colour and the taste was superb. I'll make pies with the remaining stew.
Don't you just love the French language? Beef Stew with Orange doesn't sound nearly as enticing as Bouef avec l'orange.
When I announced what we were having for tea tonight, Steve said, "A toasted sandwich will do me, I'm not hungry".