Beef and Agen Prune Stew
This is a rich and delicious stew that just gets better and better. The flavour deepens when made the day before. Serve with polenta, tagliatelle or some fluffy mashed potato and a tasty green salad, as you wish.
Serves 6 – 8
18 Agen mi-cuit or semi-soft prunes, stoned
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
400g (14oz) carrots cut into 1cm slices
285g (9 1/2oz) onions, sliced
1.35kg (3lb) well-hung stewing beef or lean flank, trimmed of fat and cut into 4cm (1 1/2 inch) cubes
1 heaped tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) plain flour
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1 cup) red wine
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1 cup) brown beef stock (see recipe)
1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
8 medium potatoes, washed and peeled at the last minute
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) chopped flat-leaf parsley
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a good green salad and some polenta, tagliatelle or mashed potatoes, to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325ºF / Gas Mark 3.
Place the prunes in a bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside to soak.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 25cm (10 inch)/3.2 litre (5 1/2 pint) casserole over
a gentle heat and cook the sliced carrots and onions for 10 minutes, covered, until soft. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the casserole over a medium heat until almost smoking. Add the pieces of beef and sear on all sides in the hot fat. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine, stock and chopped tomatoes and bring slowly to the boil, stirring. Add the onions and carrots back to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1 1/4 hours.
Arrange the whole peeled potatoes on top of the meat and vegetables and replace the lid. Return the casserole to the oven and continue to cook for a further 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Add the whole drained prunes and chopped parsley about 15 minutes before the end.
Serve with a green salad and some tagliatelle, polenta or mashed potatoes, if you like.
One Pot Feeds All