On a cold day, comfort food is needed to warm up the bones. Soups are great but nothing compares to a hot bowl of stew with a crusty baguette and butter on the side.
I like to use top sirloin for my stews but the cardinal rule here is to use those cheaper cuts of meat. (flank and cross rib roasts are perfect here). These cuts lend themselves beautifully to the braising process, becoming tender and flavourful as they cook in the liquid. I like to buy a large piece of meat and cut it myself rather than buying the prepackaged stewing beef.
When sautéing the beef cubes, don’t overcrowd the pan. You don’t want to steam the beef, you want to brown it.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 10p)
1 lb of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 lbs of beef – cut into 1 to 1.5 inch cubes, generously sprinkled with salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp of flour
1 can of Guinness beer, for deglazing
1 litre beef stock
3 potatoes, washed and diced, skin on
3 stalks of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 bulb fennel, diced
Fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary or oregano
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
In a heavy based casserole, cook the bacon over medium high heat. When nicely browned, drain in a colander, reserving the drippings. Add back some of the drippings to the pan and add in some beef cubes and brown on all sides (do not overcrowd pan). Remove the browned cubes, set aside and continue browning the beef until completed using more bacon drippings as necessary.
In the same pan, add the onion, carrots and parsnips stirring and cooking until tender, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until nicely browned. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir until the flour has cooked – about one minute. Add in the Guinness, stirring constantly. Add in the beef stock and stir until combined. Bring the stew to a boil.
Place the stew in a preheated 300º oven and let simmer for one hour. Add in the potatoes celery, herbs and fennel, returning the stew to the oven for another hour to an hour and a half. When the potatoes are cooked, the stew is ready. If the stew is too liquidy, dissolve two tablespoons of corn starch in a little beer or water and stir into the stew to thicken. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.