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Keeping you warm through the winter months: Beef Stew

December, January and February have always been the coldest months of the year, it is the time when you have to pull out your winter coats, wear thicker socks and dig out your beanie (knitted by grandma), unless, you are fabulously wealthy or are categorised between A and M on the celebrity listings, you will head to Barbados. Yet people who have clearly grown up in England still complain and rant about the snow and wet weather like it was caused by El Nino (a quasi periodic climate pattern, not a South American footballer). 

I have even heard a lot of people saying it is ‘unseasonably cold’. Unseasonably? It’s ruddy winter, of course it is [insert expletive] cold! There is no real need to complain, unless you are the unfortunate souls dealing with the floods, snow drifts and torrential rain out in the sticks. It’s hardly unlikely that half an inch of snow in London will maroon us miles from the nearest human contact. 

Anyway…rant over…it us understandable that the last thing on anyone’s mind would be gazpacho soup or a cornetto and that many of you (given the opportunity and barring an urgent social engagement) would like to stay at home hugging the radiator and watching romantic comedies. I know I would.

What is really needed is a dish that will warm even the coldest of spirits. This beef stew recipe was discovered in one of the Sunday supplements and is a great mix of meat, vegetable and sauce. I cooked this last Sunday for the housemates and it went down very well. I even succumbed to a food induced nap and did not vacate the sofa for about three hours…complete bliss. 

Beef Stew 

Serves 4 

You will need

2 tbsp of olive oil

Cup of flour

Unsalted butter (25g)

Toast

Redcurrant Jelly (2 tbsp)

Red Wine (500ml)

Beef Stock (500ml)

1.1 kg of beef chuck (cut into 4cm pieces)

2 medium onions (diced into 1cm pieces)

3 celery sticks (diced into 1cm pieces)

3 carrots (peeled and diced into 1cm pieces)

170g of parsnips (peeled and diced into 1cm pieces) (pumpkin or turnip will also suffice)

2 sprigs of thyme

1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)

1 bay leaf 

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large casserole dish, heat the oil on a low – medium setting.
  3. Spread the flour in a large bowl and dredge the beef through it, making sure every piece is covered.
  4. Shaking off the excess flour cook the meat for about 3 minutes on each side until browned (you might have to do this by halves if your dish is not big enough).
  5. Once browned, remove meat and put to one side.
  6. Melt the melt butter in casserole dish.
  7. Once melted add the all the vegetables (not the garlic) and stir till softened, this should take about 7 – 10 minutes.
  8. Once softened, add the redcurrant jelly and the wine, making sure you scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  9. Bring to a boil.
  10. Once boiling, add the bay leaf, meat, thyme and bring to a simmer.
  11. Once simmering, put on a low heat, cover and leave for an hour and a half.
  12. When the time is up, using a slotted spoon, remove the meat.
  13. Boil the sauce for 10 minutes and reduce to thicken.
  14. Return the meat and if you can find them remove the bay leaf and thyme.
  15. Serve with buttered toast or wholegrain rice. 

Best eaten in front of the fireplace doing nothing at all but if you feel you have to do something, read a book or watch a DVD.

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