In honour of the cooler weather and Kirsty’s request – here is my beef stew recipe.. the quantities are a bit vague, this is one of those cook by feel recipes! Let me start with a few basic principle for cooking stew: Slow is good. Simple! I use cheap cuts of meat, large chunks of veges and lots of red wine and stock for added flavour. Then it’s just about getting the portions / ratios and cooking time right. Because it freezes well, I dunno how many to say this will serve but it doesn’t matter!
You will need:
2kg of shin (on bone), brisket (on bone) and gravy beef or a mix of any cheap cuts of beef.
I prefer shin and brisket to GB – cheaper!
1t salt, 1t black pepper
2 large white onions – diced
2T or so vegetable oil (or rice bran, anything really is fine)
1t each – garlic, ginger and chilli
2 carrots – peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (or use baby carrots whole if you prefer)
1 potato – unpeeled but cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 c frozen peas (you can add any other vegs you like – mushrooms, broc / cauli, leeks etc)
1/2c uncooked rice or pasta (elbows work well)
Hot stock (can be any kind, I use vegetable only cos I don’t make beef stock!) I’d guess less than 1litre
3T tomato paste
1-2c red wine
Parsley to garnish
Now the way I see it is I have masses of flavour in the stock so I do not need to add more herbs to the stew. This is about easy cooking! That said if you have a bay leaf lying about the kitchen, throw it in. I sometimes will throw in a cinnamon quill / stick too. Herbs can go into the onion mix or into the final dish before putting it in the oven.
Cut the meat into 2inch chunks. Obviously if they’re the same size it would be ideal but it never works that way: don’t sweat it just try for as many similar sized portions as you can.
Don’t discard the bones – these will go in to the stew too.
Put the flour, salt and pepper into a bag or bowl and throw the meat pieces in to coat with the seasonings. The flour helps thicken the stew and browns nicely too! Can be omitted if you’re gluten intolerant!
Fry the meat in batches, you want a bit of colour on the meat here.
Remember: colour on meat = flavour!
Don’t over crowd the pan, you want the meat to brown not boil!!
I cook it 5 or so pieces at a time in a large frypan.
Remove as you go, set aside and keep frying!
Heat a clean pan, add some oil and cook the diced (I like large chunks for the eye appeal at the end) onions til soft and glassy. I don’t know many recipes where you ever want bits of browny black on the onions .. it wont hurt but it is better not to do! Add the holy trinity* and stir – def don’t want this lot to burn! If ness, add more oil at any time. So often people make life harder than they need by skimping on things that make life easier – oil stops things burning. Use it liberally 😉
Heat your oven to 200 deg or turn the crock pot on if you’re using that.
Once the meat is cooked, crank the heat up to maximum and slug in a cup or 2 of red wine. Let it reduce down, it’ll make a mess, spitting everywhere but then will thicken into a nice syrup with all the meaty bits and flour etc in it. Stir it now and then, and yes – it needs to be on a hot element, sorry about the mess 😉
Turn the heat off, add the meat back into the “wine” pan and stir.
Add the tomato paste and a cup of vege stock. Stir.
Now throw that lot into the casserole dish or crockpot.
Use a lid, in both cases.
Oven: Turn the oven down to 140 degs after 30 minutes and let it cook for 30 mins on the lower heat. So a total of 1-hour. Give it a stir and then return to the oven for a further 45 mins on the low heat. At this point, it’s cooked and can be set aside for use whenever you want it. 30 minutes to an hour before serving, add in the vegetables and rice / pasta. Stir, add a little extra stock if it looks dry. Again: you have to use your noggin here.
Crockpot: Cook for a few hours on the high setting. Turn down to the lower setting once the meat is looking tender. Add the veges probably a good hour before you want to eat. Seems to me, crockpots can vary in how vicious they are, so that’s why the instructions here are vague. I prefer using the crockpot as it’s cheaper than the oven but sometimes it’s nice to have a hot oven happening in the kitchen 😉
Serve once the veges are tender! I like to serve stew with creamy mashed potatos (with a little mustard and spring onions in ’em), some carrots and a green veg of some sort.
But you can just ladle it out as is with crusty fresh bread or serve on rice if you wanted to – it has veges in it after all! Oh and do scatter finely chopped parsley on the top, I know it’s old fashioned but it does look good!