Well it’s that time of year again when we should all be donning our hunter wellies and skipping off around the fields filling every vessel we can lay our hands on with blackberries and other fruits of the hedgerows. I don’t know about you but I love it. Trouble is some years it seems harder than others to find the time. That’s when my back up plan comes in handy. I send the boys and accept the fact that not so many blackberries come back. But luckily usually just enough for some hedgerow jelly and this gorgeous autumnal stew.
Berries, as we all know, are some of the healthiest things you can eat. Blackberries are no exception being packed with all the usual goodness you’d expect to see in a berry (vitamin C, A, E and K as well as B vitamins and lots of minerals) alongside those powerful purple-loving phytochemicals, anthocyanins. Growing wild over most of Europe and the States, blackberries have formed part of our diet for thousands of years. Recipes using autumn berries in savoury dishes go back almost as far but for some reason they’ve fallen out of favour more recently. Unless we’re eating something robustly medieval, like a game pie or roasted wild boar we tend to prefer them nowadays in dessert dishes, overlooking how well their mellow sweetness goes with meat. But it never does to be quite so prescriptive, so if you (like me this year) lack the requisite amount of berries to while away hours in your kitchen making blackberry jelly, don’t beat yourself up. Think of it as taking a more traditional approach to your dinner and give this one pot supper a go. You definitely won’t regret it.
Beef and Blackberry Stew Recipe
1 kg of stewing beef
3 (or more if you have them) marrow bones
3 onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
3 carrots, roughly diced
250 ml red wine
3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
350 ml beef stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
3 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C then put your stewing steak and bones into a roasting pan and blast for 15 to 20 minutes until they are nicely browned.
Meanwhile throw the sliced onions into a pan and cook over a medium heat.
After a couple of minutes add the carrots and celery and keep cooking until the edges start to turn slightly brown.
Throw in the herbs, garlic and season well with salt then pour in the wine.
Turn the heat up and let it bubble away for 2-3 minutes, then add the vinegar and beef stock swell as the browned beef, marrow bones (scrape the marrow out into the stew) and blackberries.
Turn the heat down and cook covered for around two hours or until the meat is meltingly tender.