To get in a stew (about something) – to get yourself worried or upset about something. Usually something that you don’t/can’t do anything to fix – the idea being that the worry ‘stews’ over a long period.
From time to time, and particularly when I am doing the tidying up, I do get in a stew from time to time, mostly about how my children can’t pick up their dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket. I also occasionally stew about how badly my neighbour parks so that other people can’t get out. And I stew over selfish drivers, deliveries that don’t arrive, cancelled trains…and so on and so on.
[Kate, do you know what I’M stewing about at the moment? Donald Trump. How how HOW is he President-elect ? I can’t get this question out of my head. But I am also with you on the dirty clothes. KC]
We tend to say it when we are worrying over things that we can’t do much about – it is as though the subject is left stewing over in our minds.
But it’s such a shame. I mean, with this expression we associate a state-of-grumpiness with a wonderful dish. Stewing should surely be a good thing, but, unless you are talking about the actual dish… it’s not.
In my eyes, stew itself is a glorious thing [Kayte disagrees in the main, but there is no accounting for taste1]. Using cheaper cuts of meat, root vegetables, squashes, red wine and lots of herbs and letting the whole thing stew for hours results in a far happier outcome than the idiomatic stew, I can promise you.
Incidentally, we have decided, in our not-very-scientific way, that the difference between a casserole and a stew is that a stew takes much longer to cook, and is richer (and much nicer), and a bit more British than the casserole (named after the French pot it was cooked in), which we have, randomly, decided is definitely inferior, and so there.
I am a walking cliche, as Kayte will tell you, so I do put a stew in the oven, go and walk the dog in the autumn leaves, come in and have a nice cup of tea, and then, later, a warming bowl of stew.
[Stop it! A “nice cup of tea”?! A “warming bowl of stew” ? You are just doing this to wind me up. Aren’t you? <screams> KC]
A U T U M N B E E F S T E W
I N G R E D I E N T S
- 800g beef skirt, or stewing steak, cut into 2cm squares
- 1 onion
- 2 parsnips
- 4 carrots
- 400g butternut squash (about half a full one)
- fresh sage
- knob of butter
- plain flour
- 500g baby potatoes
- 2 tbs tomato puree
- 1/2 bottle of wine
- 300ml beef or chicken stock
- 1 lemon
- 1 clove of garlic
M E T H O D
- Preheat the oven to 160ºC/300ºF/gas 2.
- Get everything ready to go, and it makes the whole thing a doddle2.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion
- Peel and quarter the parsnips
- Peel and halve the carrots.
- Peel, deseed and roughly dice the squash.
- Pick the sage leaves.
- Heat a little oil and the butter in a casserole pan on a medium heat, add the onion and sage leaves, then fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the flour in a sandwich bag with some salt and pepper – some mixed herbs if you are feeling fancy, and then toss the meat in some seasoned flour
- Add the meatto the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, then gently stir together. Season generously with black pepper and just a little sea salt.
- Bring to a simmer, place a lid on top, then place in the oven until the meat is tender – sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 – it depends on what cut of meat you’re using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it’s ready.
- Finely grate the lemon zest, pick and finely chop the rosemary and peel and finely chop the garlic, then mix together and sprinkle over the stew before serving. This last bit makes all the difference and you shouldn’t leave it out.
- Serve with some fresh bread and a glass of red.
1 – no accounting for taste – no explanation why people feel like this – usually when you disagree, or think you have the right opinion
2 – A doddle – very easy indeed. Children might even say ‘easy-peasy’
© 2016 Kayte & Nicer Kate – authors assert moral rights