A New Stew.

Beef with chorizo, chickpeas and sherry.

The winter months generally lend themselves to stews of all kinds, and a favourite in my house is a classic beef stew. As much as I love  it, stew can become a bit boring, and so I decided the time had come to liven things up. Well, in the stew department anyway. This beef dish has a decidedly Spanish flavour, which is a good thing. Trust me.

Serves 4

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
700 g round beef steak, diced
1 onion, sliced
1 clove chopped garlic
Salt & Pepper
1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
Splash of red wine
250 g chorizo, chopped
150 ml dry sherry
1 tin chopped tomatoes
200 ml beef stock
1 tin chickpeas
Brown the beef in a little oil and remove from pan. Fry onions, garlic and chilli, add a splash of wine and reduce. In another pan, fry chorizo until crisp, then add the sherry. Add the tomatoes to the onion mix and bring to the a simmer. return beef to the pan, add chickpeas and chorizo mix. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer on low heat until tender, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Peploe’s Please!

While I adore cooking up a storm at home for friends and family, it is closely followed by my love for eating out and discovering new restaurants. Or sometimes just re-visiting an old favorite. Peploe’s Steak and Wine Bistro, located on Dublin’s St. Stephens Green has been around for quite a few years, but somehow the opportunity to visit had never cropped up. My first visit was only a couple of years ago, after I was romanced there one afternoon by my other half.  And it was perfect. Our most recent visit was on a whim but luckily we managed to procure a table, even on a busy Friday night. The space has the feel of an upmarket Gentleman’s Club, minus the air of stuffiness.  Art Deco touches complete the ambiance, resulting in a relaxed vibe and an understated elegance that pulls you in. This is the kind of place that is a little bit special so dressing up is allowed (which I love) but is also so relaxed that dressing down would not be out of place either.

And so – to the food. On this occasion we opted to show some modicum of restraint and skip the starter, going straight for a main course. The menu is classic brasserie style with starters that include French Onion Soup, Carpaccio of Irish beef and the ever present Moules Mariniere. Not that I’m complaining, there is a reason why some dishes are elevated to the ‘classic’ status, and this is one of them.  I opted for a main of Kilmore Quay Monkfish Pie, with Dublin Bay Prawns and Parmesan Crumb. Now, I’m not a fan of the ‘crumb’ under normal circumstances, but I do love a Fish Pie.

Kilmore Quay Monkfish and Dublin Bay Prawn Pie

More often than not, a fish pie involves chunks of salmon, swathed in a creamy sauce and topped with mash, and leaves you in food coma for the rest of the evening. Not so on this occasion. Chunks of meaty monkfish nestled beside succulent Dublin Bay Prawns in a velvety sauce with pockets of spinach, topped with crispy, butter slicked parmesan breadcrumbs. This dish was comfort food taken to a new level. Satisfying but not heavy enough to render one incapacitated ( it can happen – believe me). I washed this down with a crisp glass of Chablis that out charming Gallic waiter had recommended.

Across the table, my partner in crime had opted for pasta, choosing a Seafood Linguine with  Bacon Lardons, Cherry tomatoes , Chilli & Basil. It did not disappoint. For a change, the (fresh) pasta was a secondary player in this dish, not the main component as is so often the case. An abundance of prawns and clams were suffused with a hint of chilli and basil while the lardons added a subtle smokiness that enhanced the dish greatly, resulting in a gorgeous dish that was both light but fulfilling. We skipped dessert, opting instead for an Irish Coffee before braving the cool Autumn evening. On this occasion, it was very much a case of ‘less is more’. How very unlike me……

Peploe’s Wine Bar, 16, St. Stephens Green, Dublin 2. Website.