This is the celebrated journal of Mr. Simon Collison A.K.A Colly

Colly’s Winter Stew

4th November 2006

Brrrr! It ain’t half getting cold out, and Autumn feels more like Winter if you ask me. At this time of year it is important to keep well fed and ward off any nasty colds and flus. For my money, nothing beats a good, hearty English stew - and plenty of it!

In this episode of Cooking With Colly I’ll show you how to make my magic stew. It is guaranteed to fend off germs and attract women. What’s more, if you have a big enough pan you can make enough to last a whole week! So, come into my kitchen and let me wow you with special ingredients and macro photography. Get yer aprons on…

You need a very big pan

I used to make a big stew using two pans, but this is awkward, as each stew will be slightly different and it is most likely that your partner will get some of the inferior one and start an argument about it not being as good as the last one.

A very big pan

Figure 1: A very fucking big pan indeed.

Thinking ahead, I bought a really big pan a while back. It is fucking huge. I’m not sure of the capacity, but you know the type of pan you’d noramlly do your pasta in? Well it pisses all over one of those. Key ingredient #1 - a very big pan.

Beef from the butcher

Go to Tesco, Walmart or Meats-R-Us if you like, but expect to be eating cow’s arsehole and hooves. Me, I go to the butcher - a man in a nice stripey apron who knows I need meat for a stew, and will select the appropriate bit of cow and will also dice it up for me. It is very important to limit the possibilities of cutting one’s fingers off by any means necessary. Let the butcher risk it.

Beef from the butcher

Figure 2: Some very red meat on a very grey plate.

Today I’m using beef, as nobody is going mad any more, but I often use lamb (more expensive) or even chicken. You could use venison if you’re posh. Be sure to place your meat on a dark grey plate, like I have, as it looks atrractive.

Fresh vegetables, red wine and stock cubes

Again, avoid the supermarket and go to the proper market. For me, Sneinton market has the ugliest vegetables, but they taste so much better and are super-cheap.

Fresh ingredients

Figure 3: For the price of seventeen tinned soups, you can buy all of this.

Above are two parsnips, one massive swede, mushrooms, an onion, a leek and a few carrots. I’ve also got a couple of beef stock cubes, some cheap Merlot from the Co-op, a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden - and a satsuma.

Get choppin’

I don’t truck with all this fine or fancy chopping like the chefs do on the telly. Just mutilate it all. A few big chunks won’t hurt.

Chop up all the vegetables

Figure 4: Chop-chop-choppin’ on heaven’s door.. never mind.

Obviously make sure your chopping board is free from E-coli, Salmonella and other such nasties. Keep it clean and you will live longer.


OK, serious stuff now. Fire up the hob, and heat a small amount of oil in your ginormo-pan. When it is hot, whack the beef in, and stir like crazy. If you stop to do anything it’ll start sticking to the pan, so keep turning it until the beef is browned, and doesn’t look like roadkill any more.

Getting started

Figure 5: Be careful not to burn your house down at all times.

After a couple of minutes, fling all the veg into the pan and keep stirring. If you don’t stir it’ll burn. Don’t be tempted to put more oil in - just keep stirring until the whole caboodle is beginning to cook in its own juices. This is the healthy way, and it is also standards-compliant. Keep stirring occasionally and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Rosemary from the garden

Luckily, rosemary grows in my garden like wild fire, so I have this lovely herb on tap. You should get some fresh rosemary from the shops if it doesn’t grow on your estate, but I’ll let you use packeted stuff if you must.

Working with the rosemary

Figure 6: Rose-ma-reee, heaven restores you in light. Interpol.

Wash it, strip all the “leaves” off and throw the stalks away. Chop it like Billy-O until it looks nicely mutilated. Transfer to pestle and mortar and bash it a bit to release the flavour. Make the beef stock using two stock cubes and one pint of red-hot water. Throw the rosemary into the stock and stir.

Turning it into a stew

Now, introduce the rosemary and beef stock to the ginormo-pan, stirring all the time. Once it is all in, stir for a bit longer, then pour in a third of a bottle of red wine, and stir again. Twist in the desired amount of ground black pepper and a little salt. Stir again. Feel free to pour on more boiling water if the stock does not satisfactorily cover your ingredients. I usually have about half an inch of stock above my veg at this stage.

Pouring things into the pan

Figure 7: A montage of various cooking procedures.

Magic ingredient time. Grab a satsuma or proper orange, and grate the peel into the pan - as much as you can muster before your fingers bleed. Once you have exhausted the peel, squeeze the juice from five or six segments into the pan, and stir for a bit.

Go do something else for a bit

Job done. Put the lid on the ginormo-pan, ensure the heat is on “simmer”, and go off and have a cup of tea, smoke a cigarette, or try to find the glove you need to complete the pair.

Cover before simmering

Figure 8: Put the big fucking lid on your big fucking pan.

After a goodly while, check your stew. If you would like it to reduce down a bit more and do away with some of the stock, take the lid off to let some moisture escape. If you are not planning to eat it once ready, turn off the heat and put the lid back on.

Eat it!

Job is, as they say, a good ‘un. Get some nice bowls and serve it up. I like mine with some crusty bread - bloomer or French stick, with a knob of butter.

The finished dish. Mmmm

Figure 9: This actually went cold whilst I was taking artistic photos.

It is perfectly fine to stick some of your stew in a tupperware container and freeze it until you feel the need, but remember to heat very slowly from frozen.

Next time…

Join me as I’ll be showing my Grandma how to suck eggs… but even she didn’t know about the orange peel, so there.


# helen responded on 4th November 2006 with...

you’re greatful!i’m always deeply appreciate those people who can do nice cooking!And if British man are all good at cooking? some friends of mine from UK are all can make very nice cooking.i.m just a girl from China.

# Kate Bolin responded on 4th November 2006 with...

Oh, that looks lovely.

And I second the very big pan. I currently use the pan my mother-in-law bought for making jam and chutney in.  Large enough to bathe in and perfect for making chili.

# jon responded on 4th November 2006 with...

Interesting Colly, but what about a vegetarian option?

# Paul Watson responded on 4th November 2006 with...

I might have a go at making a veggie option - and adding a dash of microformats.  ;)

# Dale Cruse responded on 5th November 2006 with...

Why on earth would you go to the expense of getting good meat, fresh vegetables, and quality ingredients and then skimp on the wine? “Cheap Merlot.” Merlot is much too fruity for a recipe like this.

Instead, I suggest a dry, hearty red that you can use to not only season the stew, but serve a glass of alongside the meal. Perhaps a nice Cotes du Rhone. You’ll find it dry and a bit peppery - should pair very well with a meat stew like this. Cotes du Rhone is widely available and won’t break the bank.

Another suggestion is Chateauneuf du Pape, though you’ll spend just a bit more.

Either way you can’t go wrong. Trust me.

# Simon Collison responded on 5th November 2006 with...

Jon: Forgive me, but can’t vegetarians organise their own subsitute. Mmm, textured-vegetable-protein stew. Yum. I don’t read many recipes that offer vegetarian alternatives. I stopped eating meat for a while once (a girl’s idea) - I felt awful. For me, a proper stew has meat in it. My aplogies to all the livestock out there.

Paul: Nice to see you here again. Make sure you chew your Microformats thoroughly.

Dale: You make a good point about the cheap Merlot - although I do make a specifically fruity stew (hence the orange). I used to be a trainee wine merchant ages ago - always got my Northern and Southern Rhones confused (only one of those is spicy and peppery, right?). Using a spicier wine is a good tip - thanks. Thing is with me, having worked in the wine industry, I ended up hating the whole pomposity surrounding wine, and being a beer drinker by heart I rebelled and just started buying cheap and quaffable wine.

# Ben Ward responded on 5th November 2006 with...

Fabulous. That might just be my Sunday evening filled, although I don’t have any ingredients, or a big fuck-off pot, or a local butcher‚Ķ

Fine, I’m just hungry.

# Dale Cruse responded on 5th November 2006 with...

Simon: Sorry the industry turned you off. But remember: Wine isn’t pompous - some of the people who drink it are!

# Rashid Muhammad responded on 5th November 2006 with...

Hey there Colly, nice hearty looking stew there. How ironic that my wife is making a moroccan stew as I type this, and by chance I just decided to see whats new here!

Me thinks a good idea to share on my blog when that gets finished sometime in 2027. Moroccan stew has butternut squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach + chicken. Veggies can loose the chicken. Very nice. I’ll let you know when I have it online.


# cat responded on 6th November 2006 with...

“It is guaranteed to fend off germs and attract women”

Colly, Colly, Colly ... what in the world would I do with women?

Your stew reads delish. I have a similar recipe but I’d use a homemade stock, either from red meat bones or chicken.

And like the previous poster I’d use a heavier wine with meat, like an Australian Shiraz (I’ve never met a pompous Auzzie and the price is reasonable at oddbins). But that’s just me. Merlot is not in my taste range as it’s too soft. Neither is fruit cooked with meat, so that’s where we’d part ways in what’d be thrown in.

I lean to spicy foods (not a surprise knowing my location) so in would go ginger and whatever fresh chilis I had in the fridge. Garlic would walk through some oil at some point. And a good english mustard might make an appearance. If the health books are right, are great for those suffering from the flu or a cold.

Doncha just love extra opinions? :-)

# Angela Campbell responded on 6th November 2006 with...

Fantastic Colly
Now call me old fashioned but I love pearl barley. A handfull of that would add that lovely taste and consistency. Really healthy too. I’m hungry!

# marrije responded on 6th November 2006 with...

Sounds wonderful, Simon. I’m not too sure about the satsuma, though…

And while a large pan is great, a slightly smaller pas will fit into the oven where it will cook by itself and you won’t have to stir. That way you can make it one night and then eat it the next! Yum! With mashed potatoes & mustard!
Oh, and ‘After a goodly while’ sounds a bit vague for newbie-stewmakers, perhaps you could give a slightly more definite estimate of the time? Since it’s actually a rather long while before proper beef is properly cooked and they may think half an hour ‘a goodly while’.

# John Labriola responded on 7th November 2006 with...

Hmmmm stew… Looks yummy, although I too am not a fruit and meat guy either. But I’ll leave that out and give it a try this weekend and as it is getting chilly here in NY too. And yes the uglier the vegetable or fruit, the better it tastes, well at least around here.

# Steve Gunnell responded on 7th November 2006 with...

Seeing as how you are a beer drinker why not use a nice stout instead of the wine? A couple of spoons of Miso paste works well if beef stock is lacking. For the vegetarian option about three cups of dried beans (try and get several varieties) soaked overnight and added after the vegies fry will do the trick.
In our house the whole pot goes in the fridge after it has cooled a bit and we microwave bowls until we get down to the last meal when the pot is pulled out, pasta and water are added to make up the volume, and the remainder is cooked on the stove top. MMmmmm.

# Olly responded on 8th November 2006 with...

Wine or stout?
To bean or not to bean?
There are many ways to skin a cat.

My preferred method of cooking a beef stew is to let Colly do it.

Cheers mate, you’ll make someone a good wife one day.

# cat responded on 8th November 2006 with...

“My preferred method of cooking a beef stew is to let Colly do it.”

I have a Colly and he uses beer with a dash of mustard :-D

All in all, I guess it does attract the women ...

# Phu responded on 8th November 2006 with...

I love a good stew during Winter. In fact, I love a good stew during Spring, Summer and Autumn:)

# Tim Almond responded on 10th November 2006 with...

There’s a great beef stew with beer on Delia Smith’s website. Cheap cuts, dumplings, and easy to do. Takes a few hours to cook - but long enough to allow you to pop out for some crowd baiting at Carrow Road.

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