This is one recipe where you want to take your time cooking it, drinking a glass of wine or two while preparing it, and show it a lot of love. Use a good wine here, something simple but drinkable. It makes all the difference in the finished dish. As with all beef stews, this one is best made a day or two ahead; don’t sauté the mushrooms and onions until just before serving.
- 1.2kg stewing beef
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 garlic bulb, halved
- 1 star anise
- small pack thyme
- 1bottle full-bodied red wine (recommended French and made from pinot noir)
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil oil
- 6 carrots, cut into large chunks
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp tomato passata
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 150g bacon lardons
- 150g pearl onions or small shallots, peeled
- 150g button mushrooms
- small pack parsley, leaves roughly chopped, to serve
A day ahead, cut the meat into large 5cm chunks. Put in a bowl with the garlic, star anise, thyme, bay and plenty of seasoning. Mix everything together well.
Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. After it boiled, pour the wine over the meat, then cover and cool slightly before chilling overnight or for up to 36 hrs.
Lift the beef out of the marinade and dry on kitchen paper. Heat half the oil in a large casserole. Working in batches, brown the beef for 10 mins, adding more oil if needed (watch out – this will splutter). Once browned, transfer the beef chunks to a plate.
Heat oven to 150C. Add a touch more oil to the dish, then tip in the veg and gently brown for 10 mins. Use a wooden spatula to scrape any sticky bits off the bottom. Scatter over the flour and cook for 2 mins, then stir in the tomato purée. Add the meat and any juices from the plate back in, then pour over the marinade with all the aromatics. Bring everything to a simmer and give it a good stir, then cover and place in the oven for 3½-4 hrs, stirring every hour or so until the meat is very tender. You now have a delicious rustic stew that can be served as is, but keep going to take it to the next level.
Leave the stew to cool, then carefully tip into a sieve or colander set over a bowl. Lift the meat and carrots back into the casserole, then squish everything else in the sieve so that you extract the juices and some of the garlic gets squished through. Simmer this sauce in a pan for 10 mins or until thickened to your liking, then pour over the meat.
While the meat is braising, heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan. Fry the bacon and onions for 15 mins until the bacon is crisp and the onions have softened and browned. Turn the heat up, add the mushrooms and fry until cooked. Tip the contents of the frying pan into the casserole, stir and simmer for a few mins. Scatter over the parsley, then bring the dish to the table and serve with the carb of your choice.
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