In the absence of a slow cooker, but in the full on presence of a deep, dark, winter in the UK and temperatures not reaching above 10 degrees C, I often find myself in need of meals that fall into the category we all call ‘hearty’. To be quite honest, this is one of my favourite categories, because done right, you feel like you have been fed for days.
Anyway, beef stew was always something I liked the idea of since making it as a student a couple of years ago, when my only reasoning was that it was quick to prepare everything, it could cook all day and used really cheap cuts of meat. With my boyfriend claiming to dislike potatoes, gravy and being unexposed to Yorkshire Puddings until pretty recently, I enthusiastically took on the challenge. My stew features, 500g of stewing steak/beef, 1 red onion, 2 carrots, 20 baby pearl potatoes (and yes you can put in less), 4 cloves of garlic, some chili flakes and rosemary for seasoning and of course some gravy.
Start by browning the diced beef in a pan in some oil, with the chopped onions, garlic and trusty chili flakes. Whilst it is browning, chop some carrots and add them into the pan. On this occasion I also added some ginger because I always have my vegetables in the freezer for ease, when preparing them, I like to chop fresh ginger with my carrots for freezing – it also makes a yummy soup when mixed with parsnips!
Once the meat has browned, carefully transfer the contents to an ovenproof casserole dish and cover with gravy. For this one, I use a pretty runny, liquidy gravy, consisting of a few tablespoons of gravy granules, some brown sauce and some dried spices mixed with water. I pour this over the dish so everything is completely submerged. Add in the baby pearl potatoes, cutting the potatoes in half if needed, to make sure they are all of similar size. Stir it all together and add some extra water if required so make sure everything is covered up.
I put on a lid, a foil one will do if you do not have a glass one, and stick it in the oven on between 100-140’C for about 8 hours, or basically the duration of your day. If I am home, I cook it on the higher temperature and I check on it every two hours or so, adding more water as required, just to keep everything covered so it does not dry out or burn. Just before I want to eat it, I sometimes also add some frozen peas for another texture and extra colour, but did not add them when I made this one.
And that is it. I serve with a giant Yorkshire pudding and try to tell myself to make it last more than one sitting.
What do you like to make in the winter? Another one of my favourites is Mince and Dumplings and you can find that recipe here!