It’s hard to beat that comforting feeling of a simple ‘melt-in-you-mouth’ stew when you are cold, tired and hungry – unless of course you are a vegetarian! Making a stew is well worth the effort and if you make a big batch and freeze little portions, you will have plenty of easy, nourishing meals to hand.
1.2kg Good quality beef – diced e.g. brisket, chuck (These are cheaper cuts of beef with a bit of fat for flavour, that will tenderise well)
1 or 2 Tins peeled tomatoes – chopped (depending on how much you like tomato!)
750ml Stock or stock/water combination – approx.
2-3 Medium onions/ 400g – diced
2-3 tbs Olive oil for browning meat
A handful of dried mushrooms rehydrated – Optional. The soaking liquor makes great extra stock and the mushrooms bulk up the stew.
1 Garlic clove finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 115˚C
- Remove any excess fat and sinew off the beef – dice into approx. 2-3cm cubes
- Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a large frying pan – when hot add beef and brown all sides. Be careful to not over-crowd the pan or burn the meat. Repeat in batches.
- Using a clean pan add 1 tbs olive oil and gently sweat down your onions. Mix frequently.
- After about 15 minutes when onions are golden and translucent, add finely chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add all ingredients (except salt and pepper) to a pan suitable for the oven. Add stock until meat is covered – add water if necessary.
- Place lid on pan and place in the middle of the oven.
- Cook for at least 4-6 hours or until the meat is extremely tender and falls apart. You will need to check the meat is cooking gently, not bubbling (this will make it tough).
- After this time if the stew has a lot of liquid, strain and add liquid to a pan on the hob and boil vigorously until thick and syrupy. Combine ingredients and add any salt and pepper.
- Remove the bay leaf
- Spoon into portions for freezing or a bowl for eating
- Makes approx. 12 kids portions
Tips: Brown beef in batches. In between batches dislodge any flavours off the bottom of the pan using approx. 50ml water. Reserve this liquid and add it to your stock. Ensure the pan is dry before adding more oil to repeat the browning process. A great meal made a day or 2 in advance for a richer flavour.
Options: Use a handful of roughly chopped, dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 750ml boiling water for a deeper richer flavour in place of stock – use mushrooms too. Add finely chopped chopped carrot or other vegetable such as zucchini (courgettes for the Brits!) a minute or two before serving for an extra injection of vegetables.
How kids can help
- Measure ingredients
- Set the timer
- Ask your helper to very carefully add meat to the pan to brown – if they are old enough (careful of hot oil)
- Your helper could add chopped onion to the frying pan