Some foods are best enjoyed fresh, like sweetcorn; if recently picked (perhaps put the water on to boil before you go out harvesting?) it just needs a sprinkle of freshly ground salt and pepper and not even a knob of butter to be succulent and delicious. Other dishes, particularly stews, taste better when left over from the day before and reheated. In that second category is the dish I cooked on Saturday afternoon, enjoyed more on Sunday and perhaps even a touch more last night: Rick Stein’s Estofado de buey a la andaluza (Stein Rick. Rick Stein’s Spain. London: BBC, 2011. p270).
It is in the broad category of beef and onion stews and some of the details, like the addition of some bacon lardons, do not greatly influence this. Others, such as the addition of olives and bay leaves certainly pull it in a more Spanish direction but I have had similar concoctions before. The new twist for me was the liquid addition. Red wine and stock are commonplace but this one also had cinnamon, orange zest and cloves, almost like adding a mug of mulled wine to the meal.
On Saturday, I would have described it as interesting, unusual and perhaps one to try again. After cooling, refrigerating overnight and reheating portions the next day, my first impressions were transcended. The meat had softened further and the flavours had stopped jostling for attention and coalesced into a complex and harmonious whole. This is a meal I would cook again and which I would be glad to serve to guests, all the more so because I know it will benefit from being prepared the night before.