I love it when autumn comes around. It's a chance to wheel out my slow cooker, affectionately known as Stewie Griffin.
The beauty of Balham is the range of niche food shops they've got and the brilliant, but small market at the weekends. I am an enormous fan of the Halal butcher just next to Sainsbury's.
They sell brilliant ox tails, mamouth blades of beef, hard to find shins of beef and whole necks of lamb and loads of goat! I always land up carrying a seriously weighty blue bag full of dense, cheap meat back across Wandsworth Common to the Towers, dreaming up delicious things to cook. More often than not I defer back to someting resembling a bourgignon... loads of red wine, an unhealthy amount of garlic and tonnes of onion.
I cut up my shin and blade of beef into big old chunks before work this morning and seared them in a really hot pan to brown the meat before lobbing the three kilos of meet into the slow cooker. This was followed by 3 large onions sweated with 14 cloves of garlic and a pack of steaky bacon... all softened to bring out the sweetness. All this went into the pot with a bottle of red wine, a handful of tomatoes, some mushrooms, thyme and roesmary.
I popped the pot on a timer to start cooking at lunch time and nipped off to work smelling like a Frenchman. On the packed train to Waterloo I got some seriously odd looks... smelling of red wine, garlic and onions... highly desirable!
I'm always a bit aprehensive when I come back from work when the slow cooker has been on... will the house still be standing... will the cooker have turned itself on... will it have gone on at the right time... will the food be cooked... will it taste any good?
The meat was almost perfectly cooked. It didn't quite fall apart when poked so I let it cook for another hour or so. I quickly cooked some mash and ladled out a healthy portion of liquid to reduce down in a saute pan with some more garlic and sweet pepper. I added a roux and then the meat to creat a really unctuous looking stew which tasted absolutely amazing!
I bloody love stews.