To bring back memories of warmer, sunnier days here is something with a Provençal edge to it. In this recipe I have cut down oil and fats in some recipes and discovered how very little, in fact, is needed. So see what you think.
Serves 2 (so double it for 4)
This recipe is from A Year in My Kitchen
12 oz (350g) braising steak, cut into largish cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 whole shallots, peeled
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped dessertspoon chopped thyme leaves (plus a couple of sprigs)
1 bay leaf
1 strip of thinly pared orange zest, about 2 inches (5 cm)
1 dessertspoon flour
½ pint (275 ml) red wine
1 tin chair de tomate or 1 small tin tomatoes
4 oz (110g) flat open mushrooms, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into wide 1-inch (2.5 cm) strips
1 oz (25g) small black Provencal olives
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 140°C (275°F).
You will also need a small flameproof casserole.
In a small flameproof casserole heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over direct heat until smoking hot, then brown the pieces of beef on all sides, not more than five pieces at a time. As they brown remove them to a plate.
When they are all done add the other teaspoon of oil to the pan and when that’s hot add the shallots to brown as well, adding the garlic after two or three minutes.
When the shallots have browned, return the meat (and any escaped juices) to the pan, then add the chopped thyme, bay leaf, orange zest and some salt and freshly milled pepper.
Next stir in the flour to soak up the juices, and follow that with the wine, a little at a time, stirring well as it goes in.
Then add the the contents of the tin of tomatoes plus the chopped mushrooms, stir again and as soon as it comes up to simmering point, put a lid on and place the casserole in the oven for 1½ hours.
After that add the pepper and olives and (still with the lid on) let it carry on cooking for a further 30-40 minutes until the pepper is tender.
Serve with mashed potato and some very green and squeaky new season’s spring greens.