Thursday, 29 October 2009

Seriously Good Stew

It's British Food Fortnight everyone!! Very exciting. In case you missed the original post, it's just all about getting involved with all the great seasonal ingredients around at the moment and celebrating British food. Sounds good, huh?

I thought I'd kick off with my absolute favorite beef stew in the whole wide world. Oh my word, this stew just makes the world a better place! Whenever I ask JJ what he'd like to cook for guests he always suggests this stew. Even in mid summer when I have to intervene and suggest that maybe, just maybe, people won't be in the mood for stew in 30 degree weather!

But it's definitely not summer here anymore and I'm loving dusting off all my comfort food recipes. Hearty squash soups, spiced apple cakes, crumbles and gingerbread. Definitely my favorite time of year!! We made this stew on Saturday and have been happily living off the left overs for days now. The great thing about stews is how much they improve after being left over night. This stew could not be easier (don't even have to brown the meat) but the depth of the flavours and the richness of the sauce is just amazing.

As I don't have a camera yet (sob!) I thought I'd demonstrate where on the cow the shin comes from. It's a fantastic and bargainacious cut of beef, perfect for recipes like this which just blip away slowly in the oven. Do use any stewing cut - we've used a few and they all work fine. I would say that meat from a decent butchers really does make a HUGE difference to the taste though. We didn't realise just how much it impacted upon the flavour until our butcher closed so we resorted to Sainsbury's meat but the flavour just isn't as good.

Here it is - promise me you'll make it soon!!

Rosy x

Shin of Beef Stew
Adapted from Jamie Oliver and serves 4 generously. I think we actually had 6 portions...

Olive oil

2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
a small handful of dried porcini
1 cinnamon stick
1kg shin of beef, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2 inch pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
⅔ of a bottle of red wine

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and gently fry the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, porcini and cinnamon for 5 minutes until softened slightly.

Meanwhile, toss the pieces of beef in a little seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Add the meat to the pan and stir everything together, then add the tomatoes, wine and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently bring to the boil, cover with a double-thickness piece of tinfoil* and a lid and place in your preheated oven for 3 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon. Taste and check the seasoning, remove the cinnamon stick and rosemary sprigs and serve.

*Note: don't forget the double thickness tin foil! I did once and the whole thing dried up in the oven.


  1. Sounds wonderful! When I first read how your fiance wanted this in 30 degree weather, I thought it was perfect weather for stew! Then I realized it was C not F...

  2. I really like the idea of British Food Fortnight. I shall endeavor to indulge in some great British classics in the next two weeks. I love stew, it makes the whole house smell so wonderful.

    So sorry to hear about the break in. I experienced that too for the first time last weekend. Doesn't half throw you off and make you unsettled. Hope the stew has comforted you both.