This is another one of those concept dishes rather than an actual recipe.
The concept here is to go over the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning or stumble into the local butcher’s shop, then prepare a meal for slow cooking based on whatever was available or discovered in the fridge or larder.
Preparation takes about an hour, followed by an afternoon free for frolicking. Return hours later to a satisfying stew, on the table and ready to eat within minutes if you plan it right.
You’ll need a slow cooker or an oven with a low temperature cooking programme, or simply an oven which can hold 65 to 75 C for a couple of hours. You could even dig a traditional cooking pit! The trick is to stay below 80 C and leave the dish in peace for a couple of hours.
I like a piece of meat. Lamb shanks or leg slices, goat, mutton, high rib of beef or venison leg are my preferred choices. Clean the meat from sinew and remove skin, perhaps remove some of the fat.
Then clean a curiosity shop of vegetables. You will need onions and lots of garlic no matter what, also peeled waxy potatoes unless you wish to serve the meal with bread or other carbs, or no carbs at all!
Pretty much all vegetables that are in season are fine by me. Fennel, parsnips, savoy cabbage. Tomotoes, beans, peas. I’d stay away from courgettes or aubergines on this occasion but even cauliflower works thanks to the low temperatures.
Clean, peal, dice.
I caramelise the meat by searing in clarified butter on the cooker, using the same casserole dish that I plan to use for the whole process.
Remove the meat, then lightly caramelise the vegetables in the same pot with the help of olive oil or clarified butter.
Season to taste with salt, black pepper, red chillies, thyme, rosemary, lovage, star anise and cinnamon. Bring the meat back, add 75 ml of wine and 75 ml of water. Close the lid, put into the oven and forget about it for a couple of hours, four hours at least, five or six won’t give you trouble.
Allow for even longer if you are using tough meat such as ox tail, but for the types of meat listed earlier, four to six hours are just fine.