Football, apple picking, cool weather, pumpkins and hot stew. Is fall not the greatest time of the year? Growing up in the prairies during harvest, I’m reminded of food that was delicious yet simple and bountiful and tablescapes that were earthy and inspiring. I sit back in a worn leather chair and ponder what to serve my hungry dinner guests. I keep coming back to a classic family favorite, a super easy stew recipe that your friends and family will go absolutely mad for, if not over your beautifully decorated harvest dining table. It’s rather straightforward with an array of seasonal root vegetables, but be sure to add the squash because it cooks into the sauce which makes it unusual yet sumptuous all the same.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put oil and butter into a large casserole dish or dutch oven. Add the sage leaves and the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, tomato puree, wine and stock then gently stir together.
Season generously with freshly ground pepper and just a wee bit of salt. Bring to a boil, place lid on top and cook in the preheated oven until the meat is tender, about 3-4 hours. Cooking time will vary depending on the cut and freshness of the meat you are using. The best way to test whether it is ready is to mash up a piece of meat against the side of the pot and if it falls apart easily it’s done. Once it’s cooked, you can turn the oven down to about 225 degrees and leave it until you’re ready to eat. Mix the lemon zest and chopped garlic together and sprinkle over the stew just before eating. The smallest amount will make a world of difference- as soon as it hits the hot stew it will release an amazing fragrance. The most impressive way to present this dish is among a casually decorated table of seasonal finds, ladling big spoonfuls into your hungry guests’ bowls. The best pairings for this stew are French wine and really fresh, warmed bread. Indulge!