Beef stew with pork belly and vegetables
( SERVES 4 )
Rich and hearty and packed with flavour, this meal will warm the coldest of nights.
- Preheat the oven to 130C. Trim all fat off the beef and cut into large pieces about 5cm square. Set aside, together with a plate of seasoned flour. Trim any bones or cartilage off the pork belly strips. The skin may be left on, or cut off, as you prefer. Cut across the strips to produce a pile of very thin slices.
- Put a couple of teaspoons of oil into a large, enamelled, cast-iron casserole and add the pork slices. Fry over a moderate heat while you peel and finely dice the onions, carrots and celery. As the vegetables are ready, add them and the ginger to the pork and continue to fry gently until the pork is lightly browned and the vege-tables translucent. Add the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the tomatoes and juice from the can and use a knife to cut up the tomatoes in the pot. Heat until boiling, then add the wine or vermouth and lower the heat.
- While the pork and vegetables are continuing to cook gently, take a heavy frying pan ready to brown the beef. Add enough oil to the pan to cover the bottom and heat until smoking hot. Dust the pieces of beef in seasoned flour and carefully place in the hot pan. It is important not to crowd the pan, so the beef may need to be browned in 2 batches. Brown the beef on both sides and add to the pork and vegetables. Stir to combine everything. Add enough stock or water just to cover the beef and bring to the boil. Place a piece of foil firmly over the stew and put the lid in place. Place in the oven.
- Cook for 1½ to 2½ hours until the beef is very tender when poked with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow the stew to rest for a few minutes before serving. Chop the parsley and grated zest and stir into the stew. Serve with boiled potatoes and buttered spinach.
"Stew" is fine with me for dishes that are cooked slowly with enough liquid to form plenty of flavoursome sauce. The dish that I cooked for Joe can certainly be called a stew. Although I used rump steak because it was a special that day, I more often use blade steak, which would take about an hour longer to cook. All beef shrinks rather alarmingly in stews, so you need to allow about 250g per person.