Catering miracle!


My children hate stew.

It’s utterly incomprehensible to me. I love stew. I always have done, in all its forms, as the ultimate in cold-weather winter-comfort food.

Their hatred of it causes me a huge headache at least once a week. The activities schedule (my calendar has been known to make grown men (i.e. t-o-m) weep) means that on at least one night a week we come home too late for it to be feasible for me to start cooking dinner when we get in. Logic therefore dictates that it must be something that can be started before we leave . . . and stew (or casserole in some form) is the best and easiest option. Throw it all in a pot, throw it all in the oven, and leave it to get on with it, with a minimum of aggravation. Perfect.

Except, the children hate it.

Not good.

Pondering this problem, I reviewed what they will eat. They like the low-spice chicken biriani I do, and they adore the local takeout’s chicken korma. Hmmm, I thought, curry goes down well.

Now today, we had a carton of pilau rice left over from the takeout we had on Saturday night. As a big special, we got takeout and watched Strictly Come Dancing (or Strictly Come Prancing, as it’s known in this household). Honey and I adore it, it’s my guilty pleasure and she just loves the music/dancing/costumes. The men in the household are less impressed but tolerate it AND the X-Factor final. I excluded myself from the latter event. I hate the X-Factor on principle and with a vengeance, and refuse to have anything to do with it. It is not musicianship, it’s glorified karaoke, and I despise it. I am filled with loathing for the treatment they have given to Jeff Buckley’s beautiful, painful Hallelujah, taking from a simple, evocative masterpiece to a pompous, overblown, easy-listening travesty. Someone ought to be shot for that. In fact, I’m supporting the campaign to make sure that X-Factor disgrace doesn’t make to #1. Grrrrr. ANGRY. Even angrier than I was about that terrible Leona Lewis version of Snow Patrol’s Run. Everything I hate about the X-Factor embodied in a single tune. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

/end rant

I digress.

The point being, I decided to try and make curry instead of stew. AND IT ONLY BLOOMIN WORKED!!!

500g beef skirt, cubed

2 medium onions

450g can chopped tomatoes

200g red lentils (dry weight)

1/2 litre veg stock

100ml double cream

slug of olive oil

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp turmeric

Fry off the onions over a medium heat until soft and transparent, in olive oil seasoned with spices. Add the cubed beef skirt and brown off, then toss in the lentils (I use the ones that you don’t need to soak) and ensure they are coated with the olive oil and spice mix.

Put into casserole dish (with lid) with the can of tomatoes and the veg stock and the cream, mix together, and sling into a pre-heated oven @ approx 125 C for at least 2 hours.

And that’s really it. We had the carton of rice so I put that in the bottom of the oven (with the lid on) at the same time and it was fine. Pilau rice or basmati is easy enough to make as an accompaniment given more time, or I guess it could be added to the pot some 30 mins from eating, though I think it would need more liquid to stop it being too dry.

And the children loved it . . . back for seconds. My stew dilemma is over.

t-o-m says if I bothered to read the instruction manual for the cooker I could work out how to use the timer, and then I could broaden my range much, much further in terms of meals-ready-to-eat when we get home late. He’s probably right, but I’m not sure I trust it enough . . . .

twist of black pepper

Very simple.


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