I don’t know what the weather’s been like where you live recently, but it just rained for pretty much three days solid here, and things are feeling well and truly autumnal.
Whilst it may not be the best weather for walks in the woods and so on, it’s absolutely perfect for the kind of rich, comforting stews that make one feel warm, cosy, and slightly sleepy.
This is the most straightforward beef stew possible, in many ways but then, why would you want to mess about too much with something that’s so wonderful in such a simple form?
It looks like a long list of ingredients, but most of it bar the meat is the type of thing that is likely already sitting in the cupboard or fridge and, indeed, I thought to make it in the first place to clear out some carrots and mushrooms from the fridge that were getting a little long in the tooth.
We ate it with mashed potatoes, horseradish cream and the ubiquitous green salad. This’ll do four or five people, depending on how much mash you made.
You will need:
- 800g-1kg stewing beef (chuck, shin, brisket, anything like that) cut into 1″ dice
- 2tbsp plain flour
- a good grind of pepper
- 1tsp flaky salt
- 1tsp paprika
- 2tbsp olive oil or other cooking oil
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- A large rib of celery, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- A sprig’s worth of rosemary leaves, chopped
- 500ml beer, preferably a porter or stout, but if not, something red and sweet
- 2 carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced into 1/2cm thick pieces
- 200g mushrooms, cut into 1/2cm pieces
- A small knob of butter
- A handful of chopped parsley
Put the beef, flour, pepper, salt and paprika in a zip-lock bag, seal it and shake it up, til all the pieces are covered. Alternatively, put it all in a bowl and mix it together by hand (this is messier, hence the zip-lock bag.)
Heat the oil in a medium to large saucepan, and fry the beef on all sides in small batches, til golden brown all over with the odd dark spot.
Lower the heat, put the meat to one side, and add the onion, celery, garlic and rosemary to soften. Keep the heat nice and low and give the base a minimum of 15 minutes cooking (though ideally a fairly closely attended 20-30), til everything is soft and translucent, but not browned.
Return the beef to the pan, and pour over the bottle of beer. If it doesn’t quite cover the meat, add a little water til it does. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and leave to simmer gently for an hour, giving it the odd stir.
In the meantime, put the mushrooms in a dry pan over a medium high heat. They’ll release liquid, which you should boil off, til the mushrooms darken, and shrink. When all liquid is gone, set them aside with the carrots.
After the hour is up, stir in the carrots and mushrooms, leave the lid off, and simmer it all for another 90 minutes, adding a little water if it starts looking a bit dry or sticking.
When it’s finished, the meat should be breaking-apart soft, but not totally disintegrated. Stir in the butter til melted, add the parsley, and serve in deep bowls with mash, and horseradish or french mustard.
When it’s beginning to get chilly, and the wind or rain are lashing at the windows, I can hardly imagine what I’d rather tuck into for dinner. If you’re an organised person, maybe you bought a few more bottles of the beer you cooked it in and stuck them in the fridge. Open them, and enjoy.