Monday, 9 November 2015

Slow-Cooked Beef Stew

I love the flavour of slow cooked beef, and I love eating stews this time of year when it starts getting cooler. But I hate overcooked, mushy vegetables. This recipe takes a bit more work in the kitchen, but in the end gives me the best of both, tender, fall apart beef and cubed root veggies which still have their shape and texture.
slow-cooked beef stew

You will need:
  • 2 pounds beef - I get a mixture of oxtail and stewing beef or skirt cut into cubes. 
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small, or 1/2 large swede, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • any other veggies you want to add
  • water
  • Worcestershire sauce
    Assorted veg and herbs for an Autumn stew

  • 2 tablespoons corn flour/corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon cool water

1. Place the beef into a slow-cooker along with the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and water. Set on low and leave to cook for at least 6 hours, but let it go for as long as you can. I will usually put it all in the pot the night before and leave it to slow cook overnight and through the day. Otherwise, put it all in the pot in the morning and let it cook through the day.

2. About 45 minutes before you're ready to eat, remove the beef from the slow cooker to a tray and strain the stock into a large pot. Add in all the chopped vegetables, topping with water if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 - 20 minutes or until the vegetables are all cooked.
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce. 

3. Make a thin paste using the corn flour and water and add to the pot, stir until it begins to thicken. Remove the ox-tail bones from the meat, shred, and add it all to the pot.

4. Let simmer a few more minutes until it is all piping hot.

Serve in a bowl with thick slices of bread.

Alternately, leave the potatoes out of the mix of root vegetables and make a separate pan of mashed potatoes. Serve the stew over the mash.

 The beef: I like using cheaper cuts of beef as they will be cooked for a long while. Skirt steak has very long muscle fibres that can become very, very tough if not cooked properly. Make sure to cut against the grain of the muscle when cubing. It should be either slow-cooked for several hours, or cut into strips against the grain and flash fried for a few seconds.

Ox tail provides a depth and richness to a stew. It can be quite fatty, and that can overwhelm a dish, which is why I use a combination of both skirt/stewing steak and ox-tail.

My son who does not eat stews, gravies, or any root veg besides carrots and potatoes gets a deconstructed stew with a serving of beef, a serving of mashed potatoes, some of the cooked carrots and peas.