Sometimes you have to disregard popular thought and make your own way. For example, when life gives you lemons why on earth would you make lemonade when you could be making limoncello? Coffee and wine might not be part of my five-a-day and may/invariably cause/prevent (depending on how a tabloid journalist interprets ‘research’) some life-threatening condition, but am I going to stop drinking them? I doubt it. The flip side of this, of course, is that sometimes you have to listen to the noises that the world makes and act accordingly. And sometimes this means you need a beef stew in your life.
I had one of these moments last weekend when I popped down to the shop to pick up some mozzarella. I’d taken advantage of a sort-of-sunny Sunday afternoon and had spent it cycling along the canal, periodically catching up with the latest rain delay news from the Queen’s Club final, which I felt called for a summery (but still substantial) dinner.
I meandered into the shop down the road, picked up my mozzarella (which was originally going to go in something with gnocchi) and then accidentally happened across some beef. A thrilling story, you might rightly think. But in this particular case, it was their best beef and it was half price.
Clearly, I thought, this was too good an opportunity to pass up on so made another trip round the shop to pick up some mushrooms a carrot and a ciabatta – it was time for a summery stew. Yup, a summery beef stew.
OK, it wasn’t entirely summer-orientated, but with plenty of fresh mushrooms, tomatoes and a healthy slosh of red wine it was the sort of filling dinner that you need having been out on a bike most of the weekend. Switching from potatoes to ciabatta (or you could make your own bread, if you’ve time) was also a good shout, facilitating the mopping-up of all the wine-laden sauce, but not making it feel like a mid-winter casserole – I could sit at the table with the window open and not feel like too much of an idiot.
If life presents you with good beef that needs using up, listen to what life’s telling you and open a bottle of wine!Print
This is a great recipe to have on hand for when you need a stew in your life. The tomatoes in it make for a slightly lighter flavour than many traditional recipes. Serves 2.
- 200g cubed beef
- 1 red onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 glass of red wine
- 150g mushrooms
- 10–12 cherry tomatoes
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 250ml stock (/water & stock cube)
Chop all your vegetables before you start cooking, to make life a little easier for yourself. Make sure the carrots are small so they’ll cook more quickly, it’s also an idea to make the mushrooms a variety of sizes so that some will completely disappear into the sauce, whilst others will still be visible as chunks. Half the tomatoes too, they’ll spread into the sauce much more easily and quickly that way.
In an oven-proof pot, brown off the beef, using about half of the olive oil. Once the meat is browned all over, take it from the pan and leave it to rest on a plate.
Soften the onion and the garlic in the remaining oil before adding in the carrot chunks. Continue to fry for a couple of minutes with the lid on, ensuring that nothing sticks of burns. If necessary, add a splash of the stock. Add the beef back in.
Pour in the wine and allow it to simmer for a few minutes so that the alcohol can burn off. Add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, the bay leaf, the thyme and seasoning, stir everything together. Pour in the stock (add less stock if, like me, you were generous with how much wine constitutes a ‘glass’) and bring it all to a rolling boil. Leave it on the hob with the lid on for six or seven minutes, then transfer to a pre-heated oven (about 160°C) and allow it to cook for about an hour.
At the end of the hour the meat should be tender and the veg soft. Ensure to check the seasoning again and correct for your taste.
Slice the ciabatta into diagonal slices (the diagonal bit is unnecessary, but looks good). Dish the stew on to the plates and arrange your bread around the site.
Tuck in, with another glass of wine within arms’ reach.
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: beef stew