How do I make a stew for one?

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How do I make a stew for one? It’s something I ate almost on a weekly basis when married with wife, aga and several children. Now I’m single, and have an oven it’s taken me two weeks to work out how to open, a saucepan and a metal spatula. Somehow these things don’t seem to amount to brown and homely, life-enhancing stew… something I could have done with during the recent April snowstorms, both literal and metaphorical.

EH, Manchester

The perils of the single life for the newly separated are many and various. Stew probably doesn’t come top of the list, but in terms of warmth and comfort maybe it should. You could of course, make an ordinary sized stew and dine off it every day for a week. But that’s depressing. Instead here’s how to make a stew for one …

If you’re implementally challenged in your new life, buy a small casserole, a wooden spoon and a deep frying pan first

Stew for one (or two)

  • 180-225g stewing steak, or shin, ready chopped or add sharp knife to your shopping list and have a go yourself
  • 20-40g plain flour
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • Squeeze of tomato paste
  • Half a bottle/couple of glasses of  red wine
  • A few stoned black olives
  • Handful of chopped fresh thyme leaves, oregano

Preheat the oven to 140-160c. Put the flour into a wide bowl or basin, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix together and then roll the chunks of stewing steak in the flour until lightly coated. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium high heat and when hot add the meat, half at a time, and cook, turning every now and then, until well browned. Remove the meat and set aside. Add the chopped onion and fry until translucent. Add the wine and cook until bubbling, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the carrot, the tomatoes, the tomato paste and the herbs and return the meat to the pan, season, stir together, then tip into the casserole. Cook in the oven for 2-3hrs, checking every now and then to make sure it’s not drying out too much (add water if necessary). Half and hour before you want to eat, add the olives. Serve with crushed new potatoes, a baked potato (cooked alongside the stew) or rice.

If you’re feeling fancy: stir in the zest of an orange with the herbs