If, like me, you’ve laboriously carved eyes and buck-teeth into numerous pumpkins over the last week (messy business) and are wondering what on earth you can do with them post-Halloween, why not try this warming pumpkin stew?
Cooking time: 2 hours
Oven temp: 180c
1kg Beef Chuck Steak or braising steak
150g Dried, ready to eat Prunes
200ml Red wine
100ml Dark rum
5 Bay leaves
2 Star anise
2 Sticks of cinnamon
200ml Beef stock or 2 stock cubes dissolved in 200ml water
2tbsp Veg oil
2tsp Salt for seasoning
1tsp Ground white pepper
1) Divide the meat into 4 parts and season them on both sides with a sprinkle of salt and the ground pepper.
2) Place a thick bottomed frying pan on high heat and pour in the veg oil to warm up, before adding the beef and frying for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove the meat after sealing.
3) Dispose of the left-over oil in the pan and add the rum first and then the red wine. Boil for a minute to reduce the alcohol and then add all the additional ingredients – apart from the pumpkin – and take off the heat.
4) Put the beef in a large ovenproof dish and pour over the wine mixture. Cover with foil and place in the pre-heated oven at 180c for approx 2 hours.
5) Meanwhile, skin the pumpkin and cut into long strips. Place in a deep dish and cover with sugar before leaving for an hour (the sugar will help to breakdown the tough fibres of the pumpkin allowing it to cook quicker). After a while you will see it start to release juices.
6) After an hour pour the whole thing into an ovenproof dish and place in the oven to cook.
7) 30 mins into cooking pierce the pumpkin with the tip of a knife to see if it’s cooked (it will be soft). At the same time pierce the beef. Again, it should be soft and the knife should easily pierce the meat. If not cooked leave a bit longer until the beef is soft and tender.
8) When both beef and pumpkin are ready, add the pumpkin to the beef mix and stew together for 10 minutes in the oven.
9) Remove the meat, pumpkins and prunes from the liquid and keep them warm in the oven. Discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and the star anise and pour the liquid into a pan and reduce until you reach a double thick consistency for the sauce.
10) Lay the beef on creamy mash and garnish with pumpkins and prunes, spooning over the sauce. Alternatively you can simply present the whole dish as a casserole served with steamed Basmati rice.