I re-found this recipe last week in a massive clear out of my desk drawers.
This is a simple beef stew, packed with flavour, that I used to cook for my friends at Dumnonni Chronicles. As our hobby involves a lot of running around and playing silly beggers, this meal was designed to be filling but not heavy. I very rarely had any left so I guess it worked!
I also guess that as I could be cooking this for anywhere between 1 and 30 people, I wanted a recipe that was quick and easy to prepare and could be cooked in a field!
A quick bit of science to go with this recipe. When you slow cook a meat in a closed container on a low heat (typically around 70-80 ºC), you are breaking down the connective tissues that holds the meat together. When connective tissue in the beef first breaks down, it creates a very concentrated zone of gelatin within the meat. This gelatin thickens juices, which helps them stay put inside the meat.
So it is very possible to over cook stews. Sous Vide and slow cookers uses the same concept to make the food tender but not over cooked.
1 lb of stewing beef cut into 1 inch pieces
8 oz carrots
8 oz swede
8 oz sweet potato
8 oz parsnips
8 oz white onions
ALL VEG CHOPPED INTO INCH SQUARE PIECES
1/4 bottle of red wine
1 stock cube
1 oz dried mushrooms
1 oz dried red pepper
tbsp of Dijon mustard
tbsp and 1/2 of tomato puree
2 tbsp of seasoned flour
good pinch of dried thyme
3 bay leafs
3 cloves of garlic
pre heat the oven to gas mark 3 (140 – 150 ºc)
Firstly soak the peppers and mushrooms in enough hot water to just cover them, and put to one side.
Cover the meat in the seasoned flour and brown off in a little oil. KEEP THE FLAME HIGH – YOU NEED COLOUR ON THE MEAT, AND ANY STICKY BIT IN THE PAN WILL BE DEGLAZED FOR HIGHER FLAVOUR.
I cheat here, and just pop the veggies and garlic in with the meat and sweat off for a few minutes.
Add the tomato puree and Dijon mustard and coat the ingredients.
Add the wine and deglaze the pan fully.
Add all the other ingredients( make sure you add the water from the mushroom and peppers) and top up with water until JUST covering the meat and veggies. Slowly bring to the boil and then pop in the oven.
Cook for 3 hours, until the meat is just tender.
If you can, cook off the day before and cool the stew. The flavour will intensify over night.
Serve with thick brown bread and butter.
If you are cooking this in a rustic setting, keep an eye on the food and slowly add wood to the fire so the stew is barely simmering. It will take a lot longer as temperature is not regulated.