So I am leaving my husband to fend for himself for a week and made this massive stew to tide him over - please halve the quantities unless you are cooking a meal for a large group. Coming from a French-background family, I am accustomed to making a basic French aromatic stew and altering the ingredients to taste. The primary principal of French cooking is fresh, quality ingredients. If you are interested in making any type of stew you can make a basic French aromatic stew and then add or subtract ingredients to taste. With this in mind I have put an * next to any of the items that form the basis of a basic French aromatic stew, enjoy :-)
2 tbsp Olive oil*
2 x Onions*
4 x sticks of celery*
4 x carrots*
4 x chestnut mushrooms*
3 x medium sweet potatoes
4 x cloves of garlic*
800g x lean diced beef (venison / lamb / chicken etc can all be successfully substituted)
2/3 x bottle of red wine (can be substituted for white wine if making white meat or ale for game / water if alcohol free)
1 stalk of rosemary*
1 stalk thyme*
1 bay leaf*
1 x cube of vegetable (or chicken) stock*
6 x juniper berries (crushed in pestle and mortar)
1 x tin of tomatoes*
1/2 x cup of ground almonds (cornflour or regular flour can also be used as thickener)
2 x teaspoons of cocoa
Pinch of salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a high heat and add the diced onions, while those are heating chop and add the celery, carrots, mushrooms, diced sweet potatoes and garlic in that order. Stir every 30 seconds through this process.
2. Add the beef and brown slightly, then add the wine, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, juniper berries, stock cube, 200mls water and tin of tomatoes.
3. Stir occasionally until mixture comes to the boil then place lid on saucepan and simmer for 75 mins.
4. Stir. Add ground almonds to thicken sauce (necessary if having low-carb option), add cocoa, salt and pepper to taste, stir again, continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
5. Turn off heat, stir and serve when ready. This stew can be served alone or with rice / potatoes although you should be cautious of thickening the sauce if serving with an accompaniment.