As I have said before, Sunday lunches can become rather predictable, but this is one of those accompaniments that adds some new flavours, giving a new twist to the familiar. Other ways of bringing a fresh approach to a roast joint are pre-marinading the meat, as in Australian Spiced Roast Pork or by adding an unusual sauce, such as Roasted Balsamic Onion & Thyme Sauce. The moment I watched Nigel Slater make this ragoût recipe on television just after Christmas I knew I had to try it. All the ingredients were handy, including some juniper berries which I had bought in France (they were a bit old, but never mind – I just added a few extra!). I was also already planning to serve roast beef the following Sunday. In place of the fillet beef used by Nigel Slater in the original recipe I slow roasted a topside beef joint using my usual Sunday lunch method. It was a definite hit with the family and I will certainly be making it again. In fact it is an unusual dish to serve when entertaining and especially useful as it can be made in advance and reheated – always a plus on a busy Sunday!
The original recipe was part of the programme Nigel Slater’s Christmas Suppers and was called New Year Roast Filet of Beef with Pumpkin Ragoût. In place of pumpkin I substituted a butternut squash, which is readily available through the Autumn and Winter and useful for so many recipes. I would be interested in trying this without using white wine as this is not always available, but the juniper berries gave a delicate flavour and the buttery sweetness of the Butternut Squash complemented the beef really well.
Butternut Squash or Pumpkin Ragoût
For fillet beef see original recipe: New Year Roast Filet of Beef with Pumpkin Ragoût
For the pumpkin ragoût
2 large onions
2tbsp of olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
6 juniper berries
A large butternut squash (or a small pumpkin)
2 tbsp of plain flour
500ml/17fl oz hot vegetable or chicken stock
175ml/6fl oz white wine
salt & black pepper
a few sprigs of chopped fresh parsley
1. Peel and finely slice the onions. Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions slowly. Strip the rosemary leaves from the stems, chop them finely and crush the juniper berries. Add both to the onions. Continue to cook gently for about 15-20 minutes until the onions are softened.
2. Remove the peel from the squash or pumpkin, take out the seeds and thinly slice into small 1cm/½in thick pieces (or larger if you wish.) Add the pieces of squash or pumpkin to the onion mixture and fry for 4-5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle over the flour, stir well and carry on cooking for about five more minutes.
4. Add the stock and wine, bring to the boil, season and then lower the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the pieces of squash or pumpkin are tender.
5. Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving.
6. To serve, spoon the ragoût onto plates and place slices of the hot cooked beef on top.