THERE’S an advert on TV where everyone sitting around the television has ordered a different meal from every fast food joint on the high street. The delivery man arrives and out of a paper bag comes a different fast food meal from a different high street outlet for everyone.

What they don’t tell you is that it must cost an astronomical price to eat like this and, nutritionally, it’s most likely packed with all the wrong kinds of calories. Is this the way forward? Not my idea of fun.

If I want an easy night entertaining friends and family in front of the telly, I prepare a favourite dish made the day before and warm it through when we’re all ready to eat. Minimum fuss, much cheaper and I bet much healthier too.


750g chuck or stewing steak

Sea salt & black pepper

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, peeled and finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

500ml full bodied red wine

2-3 plum tomatoes

2 fresh bay leaves

Small bunch fresh thyme

6-8 peeled new potatoes

Pre-heat oven 180C/Gas 4

Choose a heavy bottomed casserole with a tight-fitting lid.

Season the meat well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the oil in the saucepan and add the meat, a layer at a time to brown it well. Transfer the meat to a plate until it is all browned.

Using a wooden spoon, loosen any sediment from the bottom of the saucepan and add the garlic, onion and celery and sauté until it is all softened and translucent. (You may have to add a further splash of olive oil).

Add the carrot and, raising the heat, add the red wine.

Allow to cook fiercely until all the alcohol has evaporated. Check by sniffing the vapours. When they no longer catch the back of your throat the alcohol has gone.

Reduce the heat to medium, and all the browned meat, all the juices, the tomatoes and herbs to the saucepan. Add enough hot water just to cover the meat, not too much.

Bring to the boil and, with the lid secure, transfer to the oven and leave to cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender.

Check from time to time adding a little more hot water if the sauce is evaporating too much.

Add the peeled new potatoes for the last half hour.

Job done.