1 knob butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 handful fresh sage leaves
800 g quality stewing steak or beef skirt, cut into 5cm pieces
freshly ground black pepper
flour, to dust
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and halved
½ butternut pumpkin, halved, deseeded and roughly diced
500 g small potatoes
2 tablespoons tomato purée
½ bottle red wine
285 ml beef stock
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 handful rosemary, leaves picked
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 160ºC. 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 or 4 minutes. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, and gently stir together.
Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and just a little salt. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender. Sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 – 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 110°C 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.