Thursday, 9 February 2012

Modern English Stew - Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables and Thyme

Beef Stew with Winter Vegetables and Thyme
A spoonful of yumminess

Cold dark winter evenings doesn't seems to be leaving us anytime soon. My central heating has been adjusted in a desperate attempt to transform my house into a tropic summer paradise but alas nothing seems to be working. I am sitting in my living room with my hot water bottle, hiding in my all-new slanket, shivering. Only one word comes to mind when my tummy rumbles....Stew!

A few day ago, I've made a Malaysian beef curry stew and I thought I will go a bit more traditional and prepare a comforting British beef stew. This is after all, the sort of weather that food like this are made for. Long, slow cooking with chunk of soft nutritious vegetables and tender beef. What's not to like? At least I can give my hot water bottle a night off now while I warm myself up with this bowl of steaming beef stew.

(Serves 4)


1kg stewing steak, cut into 3cm cubes
2 tbsp plain flour
50g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
100g smoked pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1cm cubes
1 large carrots, cut into 1cm cubes
1/2 a celeriac (roughly 500g), cut into 1cm cubes
1 parsnip, cut into 1cm cubes
1 leek (white part only), cut into 1cm cubes
1 celery stalk, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
a sprig of fresh thyme
2 large bay leaf 
a glass of red wine
600ml beef stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large oven proofed casserole. Lightly coat the beef  with the flour and add it to the pan and brown over a medium heat, careful not to burn the meat or the butter. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Sauté the pancetta for 2-3 minutes, until they have rendered some of their fat and are crisping up around the edges. Add the diced vegetables and cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Pour in the red wine and cooked over high heat until it has reduced by half. Add the beef stock and tomato purée and return the beef  to the casserole. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and cover with a lid. Transfer the casserole to the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Check from time to time and add a touch of water if the stew looks like it's drying up.

Remove the casserole for the oven. Ladle into deep serving dish and serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

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