We recently managed a socially distanced but joyful winter dinner outside around a fire with close friends and this was the perfect easy bowl-food to serve up.
It’s a wonderful warming one pot that takes very little prep and then looks after itself. Based on a favourite BBC Good Food recipe I’ve relied on it for years as an easy make-ahead dinner party dish for festive get togethers, but have added a few extras to make it that bit more special.
Don’t be put off by the ingredients list, it’s very simple to prepare, and comes out of the oven meltingly tender. It also freezes really well.
A couple of glugs of olive oil
4 escalion shallots
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
A thumb-size fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1kg braising beef cut into large chunks
2 tbsp seasoned plain flour
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
2 star anise
2 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or sherry
3 tbsp soy sauce
500ml fresh beef stock
2 or 3 pak choi
300g tenderstem broccoli
For the drizzle
3 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
Handful of roasted peanuts, chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
Handful coriander, chopped
Steamed rice to serve
Preheat the oven to 140
Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish. Peel and thinly slice the shallots lengthwise and gently fry until softened. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger, and fry for 3 mins until soft and fragrant. Tip onto a plate. Toss the beef in the flour, add another glug oil to the pan, then brown the meat.
Slice the aubergine into long thin pieces then cut in half horizontally. Put the slices into a colander, sprinkle over some salt and sit it in the sink to release the bitter juices
Add the five-spice and star anise to the pan, tip in the gingery chilli shallot mix, then fry for 1 min until the spices are fragrant. Add the sugar, and stir until combined. Keep the heat high, then splash in the wine or sherry, scraping up any meaty bits.
Add the the soy sauce and beef stock to the casserole dish, bring to a simmer, then put the lid on, transfer to the oven and cook 3 hrs.
Half way through cooking time, give it a good stir, add the aubergine pieces and return to the oven. Stir well again after another hour and remove the lid for the last half hour.
While the stew is cooking, add all the ingredients for the peanut drizzle into a small blender or mini food processor and whizz together. Transfer to a small bowl.
Remove the stew from oven when the meat and aubergines are meltingly tender and allow to it rest in a warm place. (Or cool completely and freeze at this point)
Steam the pak choi and broccoli for 5 minutes, then nestle it into the casserole dish. Drizzle over the peanut sauce and sprinkle on the chopped peanuts, spring onions and coriander.
Serve up with some steamed basmati rice, and more sauce and toppings to drizzle over the dishes.