Food, foraging & recipes

Slow food Friday

Slow food Friday – beef and fennel slow cooked casserole
Slow food Friday – beef and fennel slow cooked casserole

There’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a roaring woodburner, cosy and protected from the freezing world outside, glass of wine in hand, idly reading a book and watching the dinner cook itself.  It feels somehow decadent yet wholesome at the same time.

One of my aims this year has been to cook delicious, wholesome, nutritious, locally sourced, seasonal food.  Imagine my delight last night when I realised that the woodburner we use every evening for heat, also doubles as a slow food cooker.  It’s obvious really but I’m sorry to say it hadn’t occurred to me before the electric oven we normally use started cutting out every five seconds and tripping the electricity.  A frustration that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Last night we feasted on a sumptuous casserole, rich and full of flavour, slow cooked on the top of the woodburner.  What’s more, the recipe was my own invention and was so good I want to share it with you.

Elizabeth’s beef and fennel slow cooked casserole

You will need:

  • 750g stewing beef, chopped roughly (I use the type they sell here in France for bourguignon)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium fennel, chopped roughly
  • 2 medium endive (Belgian endive) sliced roughly
  • 2 parsnips peeled and chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 100ml white wine (chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio)
  • 350ml beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • large handful of fresh mint leaves
  • a little flour
  • olive oil for frying

Firstly, fry the onion in a little olive oil until transparent, then add garlic and fry for another minute.  Remove from pan.

Next, toss the chopped beef in flour, turn up the heat under the frying pan and brown the meat.  When brown add the onions and garlic, paprika and tomato puree.  Cook for a minute or so and then add the white wine and the beef stock and cook until simmering.

Meanwhile place the chopped vegetables in the bottom of a large casserole dish.  When the beef mixture is simmering pour it over the vegetables in the casserole dish and cover with a large handful of torn mint leaves.

Cover, place on the woodburner and heat to a low simmer.  I had this on the burner for two and a half hours.  It could have stayed on longer no problem.  If you are using a conventional oven then you will need to leave it in for around one and a half hours on gas mark 3 or 170 C.

Et voilà!  Serve with a glass of red wine.  You could substitute any root vegetable and this dish would work well with pumpkin, turnip or sweet potato.  Happy slow food Friday!

You can find out more about the slow food movement by clicking here

I’d love your feedback on my recipe so please leave a comment by replying to this post.

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