Who would have thought that I - someone who is an aficionado of elegant fare in the kitchen - would fall head over heels in love with stew, and be the one to extol the majesty of beef stew in all its gloppy glory?
A rich stew of beef and onions cooked in beer
Ready in 3 hours and 30 minutes
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500g beef brisket or stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 3 cm cubes
50g chopped bacon or gammon
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
200g baby potatoes, halved
200ml hot beef sock
1 tsp brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Slices of crusty bread and mashed potato, to serve
- Heat a little olive oil and butter in a large nonstick pan and lightly fry the bacon pieces till slightly coloured. Transfer to a large pot.
- Brown the beef on all sides (don't overcrowd the pan or the meat will steam, not brown, and add a little more oil if needed). When nicely browned, tip them into the pot.
- Cook the onion in the pan until golden. Add garlic, then the carrots and potatoes till they took on a vivid glaze.
- Stir flour into the pan and add the brown ale gradually, stirring constantly to remove any sediment at the bottom of the pan. Heat until simmering and pour over the beef and vegetables in the pot.
- Add the stock, sugar, bay leaf, thyme, and a sprinkle of herbes de provence (an aromatic blend of dry herbs - thyme rosemary, basil, marjoram, oregano & tarragon). Cover and wish it a happy simmer over low heat on the stove for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Do poke your nose in the pot from time to time to check for dwindling juice.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, replace lid and simmer for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the mashed potato and bruschetta to serve with the stew.