Autumn to me means a few specific things: collecting pine cones to last the Winter, lighting the first fire to warm our home, planting bulbs in the garden, chestnut picking and starting all of that hearty warming-down-to-your-chilly-chilly-toes cooking. I wave good-bye to fresh Summer salads and welcome old classics into my kitchen using inexpensive cuts of meat, slow cooking them, braising, stewing, soups too of course get a run, root vegetables abound.
Here is my go-to Autumn warming recipe to dip your toe into ‘Winter cooking’ – a classic beef bourguignon, with my spin using pearl barley and modernised with a serving of creamy polenta.
Beef and Barley Bourguignon with Polenta
Generous glugs of olive oil
1 brown onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed (we aren’t afraid of loads of garlic in this house! Especially in Winter to ward of sniffles and coughs)
500g stewing beef (I used boneless blade steak), cubed
2 tablespoons of plain flour
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup of pearl barley
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 cups of mushrooms, quartered
Big handful of fresh parsley
Polenta, made how you like (I use loads of butter and full cream milk, naturally)
Preheat oven to 100 degrees Celsius. Heat a good glug of olive oil in an ovenproof lidded casserole dish, brown off your cubes of beef over medium heat, sprinkle over the flour and mix it all in. Remove the beef once very slightly browned, set aside in a bowl. Add some more olive oil, throw in the onions and garlic and sweat off until yummy looking and smelling. Throw in your chopped celery and carrot, cook until vegetables slightly soften.
Pour in the beef stock, red wine, pearl barley and tomato paste. Stir through and turn heat up. Stir whilst cooking this all together, add in your beef again, the bay leaves and thyme too. Season with salt and pepper generously, pop the lid on and cook in your low temperature oven for about 2 hours.
Remove from oven and check on the progress, looking good? Add in the mushrooms and stir through, simmer gently on stove until mushrooms are cooked and juices absorbed to your liking.
Serve with big handful of parsley and on creamy bed of polenta.
Now, if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart I don’t know what will! The perfect dish for these chilly Autumn evenings we’re having, easing us into the long dark Winter ahead where I will be hibernating wholly with meals like this (and a baby too!) The pearl barley is a staple for my cooler months cooking, I really think we should all up the intake of pulses like this in general, do it – you’ll feel better for it!
I love cooking like this – long and slow, getting it all sorted in the afternoon, having the oven on for most of the day, the whole ceremony of cooking a meal like this warms me just by moving around the kitchen, very rhythmic and methodical. Stir the soup, put some wood on the fire, taste the soup, more salt? That sort of thing.
Got a favourite one pot wonder meal?
Find your cooking changing just like the leaves on the trees?