Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beef and Fennel Stew

The weather was getting warmer, but the days for body-warming stews were not yet over. So I wanted a light, springlike beef stew. Why not, I thought, use fennel bulb as the vegetable ingredient? And there was a little ouzo left in a bottle to add to the aniseed flavours. Moreover, fennel bulbs were plentiful and cheap in the market.


You will need:
Fennel bulbs
Stewing beef
Pepper and salt
Star aniseed
Ouzo, Pernod, or other aniseed drink
Beef stock cube
Herb or herbs tied with string (optional)

In a saucepan or casserole, fry a chopped onion in oil until the pieces become transparent. Sprinkle over some plain flour. Stir.
Add chopped stewing beef, 2 star aniseeds, a crumbled beef stock cube, pepper and salt, some ouzo or other aniseed drink (be careful that it doesn’t flare up), lots of chopped fennel, and water to cover.
I first added some prunings of sage, rosemary and thyme tied with string. This adds flavour but is not necessary.
Boil the stew slowly for some 3 hours more or less, depending on the quality of the beef.
Should you have added herbs to the top of the dish, extract and discard them before serving.
The end result is light and delicious, so much so that it would be wise to make enough to serve the following day.


Chicken Stew with Multiple Goodies

This dish has many variations and each one is a winner. The first of my versions started with onions and garlic, flour, black olives, chicken, white wine, pepper and salt. Since then I have varied the ingredients as I thought appropriate for the time. It is a wonderful dish, cooked with your own choice of spices and vegetables. It is so easy to do – and inexpensive as well. 

You will need:
Onions and garlic
Herbs, spice or spices
Black or green olives
Citrus and/or vegetables
Pepper and salt
Stock and/or white wine

Cook chopped onions in oil until transparent in a saucepan that will hold your chicken or chicken pieces pretty snugly.
Add a little flour, spice, spices or herbs of your choice, like ginger, thyme, turmeric, saffron, sage, paprika, five spices, cumin, etc., but only one or two. Don’t overdo it.
Now add potato chunks, lemon or lime chunks, green or black olives (without stones). Or you could add any other fruit or vegetable from prunes to swedes should you feel like it.
Salt and pepper your mix.
Just cover the ingredients with chicken stock, white wine, tea or other stock (made from stock cubes). Bring to the boil and cook the chicken very slowly until the meat is done, say around 25 to 30 minutes, or a little more for a large bird and more solid vegetables.
Serve and eat it right away, or better still, leave the dish until it becomes cold. Then extract the chicken to skin and bone it, returning the carved meat to the lovely juices. Heat through when wanted.
Being a main course that can be made well before other preparations for the meal, there are huge advantages to be had – especially for those at the table who dislike dealing with skin and bones.