Beef Stew with an Orange Twist

2 Feb

It’s been bloody Baltic here in the UK for the past few days, with temperatures tip-toeing back and forth around 0 (32 for my American readers). My inner Californian is shivering and whimpering, making noises that sound like “plane” and “away” and “now”. At times like these, I find the best way to get it to calm down is to eat stew, especially the beefy kind.

Now, the traditional British beef stew pairs the beef with ale or stout and root vegetables, making for a slightly sweet, warm, warm and comforting potage. But I wanted something a little more exciting, which would simultaneously soothe me and wake me up a little. Luckily, I was reading Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard, which includes a recipe for daube de boeuf, made with red wine, garlic and orange zest. Taking her recipe for inspiration, I promptly packed my culinary bags and crossed the Channel.

A note on the flavours: beef and orange is not the most obvious of pairings, I know. But red wine bridges the gap between meat and citrus, echoing the bloody undertones of one and the fruity high notes of the other. The result is a beef stew with a swagger; one less like a woolly blanket, more like a matador’s cape. The orange zest is easy to peel off – just apply gentle pressure to the outside of the orange with a vegetable peeler and pull down or across.

Beef Stew with Red Wine and Orange (inspired by Elizabeth Bard’s Daube de Boeuf)

Serves 3

500g/1 pound chuck (my beef was from East London Steak Co.), cut into 4cm/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons neutral oil
5 shallots, peeled and halved
3 big carrots, peeled and cut into 4cm/2-inch slices
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bushy sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
zest of half a navel orange
500ml/2 cups drinkable red wine
500ml/2 cups beef stock
400g/14 oz tin chopped/diced tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 160C/325F.

Mix the flour, salt, and pepper on a big plate, then toss the beef in the mixture until well-coated.

Heat the neutral oil in a big Dutch oven over a high flame. Fry the meat until there’s no sign of red, and the meat has crispy brown bits on it (brown = flavour). Scoop out the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the shallots, carrots, garlic, thyme, and bay to the pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the red wine. Scrape your spoon on the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Then add the stock and the orange zest.

Bring everything up to a simmer, then pop the lid on the casserole and put it in the oven. Bake for 2.5-3 hours, until the beef falls apart when pressed with a wooden spoon.

As with all slow-cooked things, this benefits from 24 hours in the fridge to round things out.


One Response to “Beef Stew with an Orange Twist”

  1. Lynne Hodgman February 2, 2012 at 7:01 PM #

    Yum. Whether it is cold or not, winter months = stews to me! As far as pairing citrus with beef, think of the Chinese-American tangerine beef dishes. The sharp sweetness of fruit peel is perfect for setting off — and rounding off — the richness of a long-simmered stew. Plus carrots and other inherently sweet vegetables are an additional lovely contrast.

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