The frost finally bites

Winter has very much arrived. As I slid through Stockbridge earlier today, I made peace with the fact that my brogues had tread on their last leaves of the year, and it was now time for my Uggs to provide me with a safer form of transport.

What has proved to be a particularly tiring few weeks, led to my plans today going slightly askew. An early rise to watch the Santa run was replaced with scrambled eggs on brown toast and a cup of Earl Grey, with a knitted blanket to keep me warm. When I finally braved the streets, the men with red hats and white beards had returned home, having accomplished something on this second Sunday of December. My lack of achievements today soon subsided when I decided that giving myself a hard time for doing nothing was somewhat pointless. We’re all allowed a day now and then when we do absolutely nothing, aren’t we?

On this sort of day, when it’s cold inside and out, only certain sorts of dishes will do. My lack-lustre attitude to the day itself resulted in a desire to produce a meal with minimal effort and attention: something hearty and warm, where the oven did most of the work – beef, cooked slowly in red wine, infused with sage, onion and garlic. This proved to be the one thing I achieved today, and the three hour wait allowed me to flick enviously through the pages of Vogue, whilst my dinner took care of itself in the oven.

Beef braised in red wine

  • To serve four people you will need:
  • 1kg of stewing steak, cut into chunks
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 300ml red wine
  • 230ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.  Add a glug of olive oil to a frying pan, followed by the onions and garlic. Cook until soft and brown (roughly 8 minutes), and then transfer to a casserole dish.
  2. Add a little more oil to the frying pan and brown off the meat. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring well to prevent lumps from forming. Season well, and then add the wine. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
  3. Once the sauce has come to the boil, transfer the contents to the casserole dish. Add the tomato purée, stock and sage. Cover and cook for 2.5-3 hours. Season to taste, and serve with green vegetables, mashed potatoes or fresh, crusty bread.

I devoured two servings of this stew with the remaining wine, and some delicious fresh bread. With Elf on in the background, I finally felt a sense of satisfaction about how I’d spent my day. Little was accomplished, but a delicious meal was eaten, and full red bodied wine was drunk – isn’t that what Sundays were made for?


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