Something for the weekend: beef with prunes by Fernandez & Wells

Here's a recipe for a casserole that'll warm your soul as the winter draws in, with the depth and intensity of beef, dried fruit and wine

chunks of beef with meltingly-soft prunes

Serves 4

Preparation time 10 mins

Cooking time 180 mins

Fancy a warming casserole with a difference? Try this one – prunes give it an identifiably autumnal feel and a bit of sweetness. Serve with buttery potatoes to really amp up the comfort levels.



  • 6 tbsp tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 kg chuck steak, cut into chunks
  • 2 white onions, peeled and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp ras el hanout
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 400ml Rioja red wine
  • 650g chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g no-soak pitted prunes
  • ½ bunch mint, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • Boiled or buttery mash potatoes, to serve


  1. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil in a large high-sided, heavy-based frying pan.
  2. Brown the beef in batches over a high heat and transfer to a casserole.
  3. Add another 1½ tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Sprinkle over the spices and cook, stirring constantly, for another 3 minutes.
  5. Finally, add the chilli and cook for 2 minutes, then tip the contents of the pan into the casserole with the beef.
  6. Pour the red wine into the pan to deglaze it, stirring the wine with a wooden spoon to make sure you get all the caramelised bits from the bottom of the pan, which are full of flavour. Reduce for 5 minutes then pour over the meat.
  7. Add the tomatoes and water to the casserole. Season with 2 teaspoons of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper, and stir the casserole once.
  8. Cover the casserole tightly with the lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Check from time to time that the dish is not drying out and if it looks like it is add a bit more water.
  9. Remove from the oven and stir in the prunes and fresh herbs. Replace the lid and allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Rustic: Simple Food and Drink, from Morning to Night is published by Hardie Grant, priced at £20. Photography by Helen Cathcart. For more info: