Now that the winter nights are drawing in, take comfort that it’s a good excuse for fires, granny blankets over the knees and hot toddies. Oh yes. Also a fabulous excuse for delish, soul-warming food like this Delia recipe I made the other day – it was lovely. It also involves lifting a heavy casserole dish in and out of a hot oven at regular intervals, which always makes me feel like a real woman/wife/mother.

Picture via Delia Online

Latin American Beef Stew

2 lb (900 g) braising steak, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1 rounded tablespoon cumin seeds
1 rounded tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 medium red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 x 220 g tin chopped tomatoes
16 fl oz (450 ml) brown ale
5 fl oz (150 ml) red wine
12 oz (350 g) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
8 oz (225 g) fresh sweetcorn (about 2 cobs), or frozen and thoroughly defrosted
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped into 1½ inch (4 cm) pieces
salt and freshly milled black pepper

**Because of the kiddipops, I don’t like to use alcohol in recipes (except when I want an early night and a lie-in the next morning) so I substituted a beef stock cube and red wine vinegar for the ale and wine. I also used a small can of sweetcorn instead of on the cob, which makes eating easier.**

First of all, you need to roast the spices and, to do this, place them in a small frying pan or saucepan over a medium heat and stir and toss them around for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted and start to jump in the pan. Now transfer them to a pestle and mortar and crush them to a powder.

Next, pat the cubed meat with kitchen paper, then place the casserole over a high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and, as soon as it’s really hot, brown the meat about 6 cubes at a time, till it’s well browned and crusty. As the cubes cook, remove them to a plate and brown the rest in batches. Then heat the other tablespoon of oil and fry the onions, chilli and garlic until they’re nicely tinged brown at the edges. Now add the flour and stir this in to soak up the juices. Next, add the spices and return the meat to the casserole, then add the tomatoes, ale and wine, season and stir well, then bring it up to simmering point, put the lid on the casserole and place in the centre of the oven for 2 hours.

After that, add the squash, sweetcorn and red pepper, stir again and return the casserole to the oven for a further 40-45 minutes.


I served it with some crusty bread. Had I been better prepared I would have made bread – in a breadmaker of course, who do you think I am, Superwoman??