It has been absolutely freezing recently. There's nothing like trekking out to the car in your dressing gown to thaw out the thick frost to wake you up in the morning. Brrrrr... And it's cold all day so you try to wrap up warm in layers of clothing and then melt when the heat kicks in and you shed items of your wardrobe all over the place (usually a coat, cardigan and scarf on the back of my chair in work). At mealtimes, all you want is something to take the chill out of your bones and this is where my stew comes in.
It uses a really cheap cut of meat so it won't break the bank, it's jammed full of really filling seasonal root vegetables and it freezes like a dream which is very handy for impromptu lunches and dinners. Because the meat is inexpensive, it needs long slow cooking on a low-ish heat. Don't try to take shortcuts by cooking it quickly on a higher heat because you'll end up with tough, chewy and frankly inedible meat - you need to take the time to cook this meat right down because it turns into meltingly tender chunks of beef with incredible depth of flavour. Feel free to vary the root vegetables in this stew - I'm not a fan of parsnips, but if you love them, throw a few in. I usually serve this with an extra portion of green vegetables - to add to the five a day - and some lovely mash to soak up the delicious gravy. I get about 6-7 portions from this quantity so if you want to cook for a big group, double or triple the quantities (use a bigger casserole, of course!)
Beef and Winter Vegetable Stew
750g Rib Steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp seasoned Flour
1 tbsp Oil
1 glass of Red Wine
3 Carrots, peeled & cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Turnip, peeled
2 large onions, cut into large chunks
1 Knorr Rich Beef Stockpot
1 litre Water
Heat your oven to 150c/Gas Mark 3
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Toss the beef in the seasoned flour & fry in the oil on a relatively high heat for a few minutes until browned on all sides - you'll probably have to do this in batches, so add more oil if necessary. Take the beef out of the casserole dish & leave to one side.
Turn down the heat & deglaze the pan by adding the glass of wine and scraping up all of the stuck (i.e. bits that have all the flavour) at the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine up to a boil for a moment to evaporate the alcohol and then reduce back to a low simmer.
Return the beef to the casserole dish and simmer for 25 minutes, then add the carrots and turnips, mixing well with the beef. Now add the beef stockpot and enough water to just cover the meat and vegetables. Bring to the boil, give the casserole a good stir, pop the lid on and put into the oven for 90 minutes.
After the first 90 minutes, add the onions and stir well. Cook for a further 90 minutes - at this stage, the meat should be falling apart when you stick a fork into it and the sauce will be glossy and thick. Taste it for seasoning & adjust if necessary. I added a punnet of oven-roasted tomatoes, a large handful of garlicky fried mushrooms & a handful of chopped parsley to the end stew just to deepen the flavour (I'm never happy...)
Serve with more veg and lots of mash to soak up the gravy. If you're planning to freeze this, make sure it's absolutely cold before transferring to Ziplock bags or freezer containers. It will keep for 6 months in a freezer, so make sure you write the date on the container.