As the winter weather seems to be intent on over-staying its welcome, there seems to be only one this to do. EAT. It’s the end of February; you are quietly getting excited about the end of winter, and the feasting that can be done once the spring has pushed its’ way through the cold.

We should be so lucky.

 As you Londoners may have noticed, the weather got considerably warmer about 2 weeks ago and even the word “snowdrops” were muttered, but alas, that was swept away from under our feet, and then Baltic wind is back, whistling down the streets like freight train. It is 2 degrees today, but I am guessing the wind chill factor is well below freezing. I am bored and fed of being cold outside and inside, cold in the office and cold in the house. The only place I am not cold is in the bath, and there is a limit of how long you can stay in there without turning into a prune.

Anyway, enough with the complaining – spring will be here soon, good things come to those that wait, and other useless mantras that everyone seems to recite to make each other feel better – on with the stew.

This is a French beef and red wine stew. It is important that it is made with Cote du Rhone, rather than any other red wine. I wish I could tell you why, but I think I need to take up my membership of the Wine Society first…

Now, I know what you are all thinking, February 2013 – HORSE MEAT SCANDAL. So yes, you are right, this COULD be French horse and red wine stew, depending on where you source your meat. In all honesty, it tastes pretty good and horse tastes like beef so it would work with either…

Serves 6

3lb braising/stew beef

1 bottle of Cote du Rhone red wine

Salt & Pepper

2 Thyme sprigs and  2 bay leaves

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

Orange, washed and cut into quarters

1 large onion, cut into large rings

Olive Oil

16oz tomato paste (most of a tube…)

30oz black pitted, good quality olives

 Start by seasoning beef with salt and pepper on both sides.

 Place in a big bowl with all ingredients EXCEPT for olives and tomato paste. Pour over entire bottle of red wine (the other blonde will like this…) and leave to marinade for 12, but preferably 24 hours.

pre-cooking

Then remove beef from bowl and fry in a big casserole dish in hot oil, browning all over. Pour in marinade (including all flotsam & jetsum) and bring to boil for 5 mins.

Reduce to a simmer and add tomato paste, olives and a glass of water.

 Now leave to stew on a low heat, barely bubbling for 2/3 hours (I found I only had to cook it for 2 hours as beef was beautifully tender by then).

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Before serving, heat for 15 mins without lid to thicken and serve on a bed of garlic mash (fry garlic cloves, add crème fraiche and add to mash potatoes) and some greens.

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