I know that this sounds weird. Really, I do. And banana shallots aren't as rare as you might think: we found them pretty readily - they're also called echalions. Give it a shot.
- 900g gravy beef, cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)
- 4 banana shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 4 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 625ml | 2 1/2 cups hot beef stock
- 450g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Basil leaves, chopped to garnish
- Combine the beef, flour, spice, pepper, lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Leave to marinate for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 160C (325F) and have all your vegetables prepared.
- Put the oil in the casserole and heat over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, lower the temperature to medium-low and brown the beef cubes.
- Add the shallots and chillies and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots, cinnamon stick, star anise, kaffir lime leaves and stock and bring slowly to a rolling simmer.
- Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for an hour then add the butternut squash (be careful the pot will be very hot) and give the stew a stir.
- Return to the oven and cook for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour until meat is very tender.
- Add some chopped basil leaves, check the seasoning and serve with crusty bread.
Preparation time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours