For some reason I’ve only just noticed Sara Bedford’s autumnal stew recipe from, appropriately, the first of the month. It is bubbling away as I write and smelling fabulous, so I thought, while we all wait for the The Thick Of It to start (heavens! I haven’t been this excited since Wednesday when the next DVD in the third series of the West Wing arrived from Lovefilm), let’s get a stew meme going.

Stew is perfect post-canvassing/local party social food because it keeps itself warm and can be stretched to accommodate unexpected numbers. If only it began with the same letter as “politics”. Also perfect for student parties for  much the same reasons. Plus people will want to shag you if you demonstrate  the ability to make stew for them. Trufax.

And so I give you Mortimer’s More-or-Less Normandaise Beef Stew, which is my attempt at recreating something amazing I ate from a stall at a French fair in Whetstone once (quantities are roughly speaking for three/four, but I’m not one of nature’s precision cooks, as you will soon see):

500g of casserole steak

Enough new potatoes, carrots and peas for the number you’re cooking for

One large onion, chopped

Two cored and sliced eating apples

Bottle of good quality apple cider

Beef stock

2 tablespoons of caramelised onion chutney (to be quite honest I’ve no idea how vital this is; I make it myself so tend to add it to everything)

1 tablespoon of mustard (more if you like a good peppery stew)

Lots of thyme

1 tablespoon of cornflour

A good 50ml or so slug of single cream


1. Brown the beef in a stockpot with plenty of seasoning and olive oil.

2. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions and apples. Cover with a mixture of three-quarters cider and one quarter beef stock; add the chutney, mustard and thyme and give it all a stir.

3. Cook on lowish for a stew amount of time (i.e. longer the better, but an hour minimum, in which case you’d better whack the dial up a bit) In the last quarter of cooking time, add the cream, peas and cornflour.

4. Check the flavour and season.

Serve with a green salad and vinaigrette, and crusty bread to mop up.