Beef Stew

Winter is truly here.  Night-time temperatures are dropping and even during the day it is cold and damp.  Visually it is attractive, but apart from doing what is necessary (chopping wood for the fire!!) it is the sort of weather where you want to be indoors, and comfort food is what you want.

Fog in our valley - taken at 11am!

Fog in our valley – taken at 11am!

Many years ago, (too many to WANT to remember) I was given a cookbook at my kitchen tea prior to my wedding.  It was very basic and handy and in the early days I tried many recipes from it.  Over the years dishes have evolved as I have added or subtracted, played around with quantities, and discovered new products.  One of my favourite changes is deleting the flour that a cook traditionally coats meat with prior to browning.  The addition of flour is for the dual purpose of coating the meat to enable good browning, and to thicken the gravy later.  As an alternative, instead of the flour, I just brown the meat as is, and then add some LSA mix (depends on quantities of meat) which adds a slightly nutty flavour, and thickens the gravy.  The only ‘downside’ to it is that it doesn’t dissolve like flour, so you do get a slightly grainy texture.  If that doesn’t bother you, give this a try.

You can also vary this recipe by changing the regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, or adding winter root vegetables like turnips, but this is the basic recipe. (In the photo I have used mixed potatoes and sweet potatoes – cut the sweet potatoes a little bigger than the regular potatoes as due to their higher water content they cook more quickly.  Or you could add them a few minutes later than the others).

I cook my beef stew on the stovetop, or in a large electric frypan, this recipe I don’t do in the oven as a casserole.  I have other recipes that I cook that way, but not this one.

The convenience of this recipe is that you can part cook this meal and put it aside for later.  So you could cook it to the point where you are ready to add the vegetables, then let it cool and put it in the fridge (you could even freeze it if you want).  Then, when you are ready to eat it, you can heat it up again, then proceed from adding the vegetables.  This way you could have the dinner part cooked in the fridge, and have it on the table in little more than half an hour.

Beef Stew (to serve four).

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

750g gravy beef (I prefer this to chuck steak as it is easier to trim fat from outside, it has enough fat to make a moist dish but less than chuck);

1 tbsp oil;

1 onion, chopped;

1 large or two small cloves of garlic, chopped;

1/4 cup of LSA mix (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond – available in the health food aisle of the supermarket or in a health food shop);

1 tbsp gluten free worchestershire sauce;

1 tsp salt;

3 shakes pepper;

Sufficient stock – should use about 1 litre, but might use more or less, depends on the mixture and how frequently it boils (you can top up with water if necessary);

Six large potatoes;

3 large carrots;

1 cup frozen peas.

Dice the meat and fry over a medium heat until just browned.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and put on a plate.  Fry the onion and garlic until just soft, then return the meat.  Add the worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper and LSA mix and stir.  Add a little stock, stirring, and then add enough to cover the meat, reserving any remaining for later.  Bring to the boil, then turn down to a slow simmer.  Simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours, checking constantly and topping up liquid if necessary.  (Poke or taste the meat at 2 hours and see if it is soft enough or still a bit chewy). Peel and chop potatoes and carrots into fork sized pieces, and add to mixture.  Bring to just under a boil, and cook a further half hour.  Add frozen peas, turn off heat and leave for five minutes.  As your carbs are included in the meal, you don’t need to add any further but can serve with bread to mop up gravy if you like.