The leaves are turning, the days are shortening; autumn is once again upon us. Leisurely, balmy evenings spent enjoying supper in the garden with a lovely glass (or two...) of something chilled, will become just another memory of summer. As the BBQ is packed away for another year and the casserole dish is hauled back out of the cupboard, our plans for dinner turn towards more warming, hearty dishes – fresh, crisp salads just don’t quite hit the spot anymore; the cooler, darker evenings call for something a little more substantial.
If time allows, and that’s to say cooking time rather than preparation time, a stew or braised dish gently cooking away in the oven is one of the real pleasures of the change in seasons. After a bit of assembling, you can pretty much leave it to its own devices for a few hours whilst you get on with other things; if you’re feeling energetic, then maybe raking up all those flame-coloured leaves that are scattered across the garden, or if not, perhaps curling up on the sofa to read that book you didn’t quite get around to on holiday.
Whenever I have braising steak
, I find it almost impossible to resist a Beef Bourguignon – having cooked it so many times I don’t follow a recipe exactly, but it is based on one from an old Delia book I have, and you can find that recipe here
. I know traditionally it’s meant to be made with a red Burgundy, but these can be pricey, so I have always opted for other, more reasonably priced reds and they still produce delicious results. And, like Delia’s recipe, I have never put carrots in mine. I love eating this with crisp, golden roast potatoes and perhaps some curly kale or garden peas. A creamy, buttery mash would also be good, but there’s just something about the crunchy pieces of roast potato combined with the rich, meaty, red wine gravy that wins for me every time.
is another great option for slower cooking. Relatively inexpensive, it can become something quite amazing when roasted for several hours, as this recipe for Three Hour Pork Belly
shows - succulent meat and crispy crackling are a simple but perfect combination. It’s also superb in a casserole, and this Chorizo, Pork Belly & Chickpea
recipe is ideal – hearty and comforting, it’s Spanish flavours give just a little reminder of warmer climes.
Whatever you go for (maybe even lamb?), you’ll hopefully be rewarded at the end of it with something rich, deeply flavoured and meltingly tender, filling your kitchen with a cosy, welcoming aroma. Just the thing for a crisp, autumn day.