January 25, 2012

Making Stew with My Pal Jamie Oliver

Ok, I don’t really know Jamie Oliver. But I wish I did because he seems so fun and cooks awesome things and names most of his children after flowers. I have many of his books, including this one.

Last week’s snowy weather had me thinking I needed to to make something hearty and rib sticking and believe it or not I had never made stew before! So I consulted with my Very Close Personal Friend Jamie. (I am the Queen of Lies. Ignore everything I say. Except when I tell you how Very Good this stew turned out.)

Actually I was also consulting this book, but I decided to fully commit to Jamie. (Hi Jamie! Want to be my BFF? I’m perfectly normal.) I was worried at the outset that the result would be too winey, more like beef bourguignon, but after 3+ hours in the oven, it all melded into a just-right beef stew.

DO add the lemon zest called for at the end. It adds a delightful brightness of flavor. You know when I start calling things delightful, it’s awesome. The other herbs I added before the stew went into the oven. (Sorry Jamie. I didn’t fully commit to you 100%. I march to my own drummer. One time I decided that I knew better than Jacques Pepin and changed the recipe I was using. Guess what? Turns out I DIDN’T know better than Jacques. Go figure.)


  • olive oil
  • a knob of butter (I interpret this as a tablespoon.)
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves (I didn’t have this.)
  • 1 3/4 lb stewing steak or beef skirt, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • flour to dust (I used about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 a butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly diced. (I didn’t have this.)
  • optional: a handful of Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and halved. (Didn’t have it.)
  • 1 lb small potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree (paste is fine too)
  • 1/2 a bottle of red wine (this is about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups beef or vegetable stock
  • zest of one lemon, finely grated
  • a handful of rosemary, leaves picked (I also used a handful of thyme, and a bay leaf. I put it in as it went into oven. The lemon zest I added at the end, the way I was supposed to.)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put a little oil and your knob of butter into an appropriately sized pot or casserole pan. Add your onion and all the sage leaves and fry for 3-4 minutes. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato puree, wine and stock, and gently stir together. Season generously with freshly ground pepper and just a little salt. Bring to a boil, place the lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 (mine took 3.5) – it depends on what cut of meat you’re using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it’s ready. Once it’s cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 225 degrees and just hold it there until you’re ready to eat. 
The best way to serve this is by ladling big spoonfuls into bowls, accompanied by a glass of French red wine and some really fresh, warmed bread. Mix the lemon zest, chopped rosemary and garlic together and sprinkle over the stew before eating. Just the smallest amount will make a world of difference – as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance. 
Serves 4.
--from ‘Jamie’s Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook’.

Perfect winter recipe! Andrew wants to be BFF’s with Jacques Pepin, we watch his show all the time. I want to be friends with all my Brit cookbook authors like Jamie and Nigella. I know they would also want to my friend, if only they knew me!


  1. That looks soooo yummy. Now if only I could get my picky eaters (all three of them!) to try something like this... :)

  2. Delish!! I'm trying this one for sure.

  3. To be honest Michelle, Julia didn't adore it. But Andrew and I sure did!

    @Tats: what is great about this recipe is that it does not call for browning the meat. Jamie swears it makes no difference. So it's basically dump and cook! ~Melissa

  4. I love Jamie and his great cooking ideas. I'm a big fan of his show here on the spanish cooking channel... Problem is, every time I watch it, I get hungry :)

  5. @Laura: I used to watch so many cooking shows before I had Julia, now I don't watch as many, except a few I manage to see at night -- Jamie seems like such a fun guy doesn't he? I like his relaxed attitude towards cooking. :) ~Melissa