Haven't made a stew in absolutely ages, and this weather certainly calls for it. Have had a few days off this week so I've actually been able to see how grey and miserable it is outside.

Stew has mixed memories for me growing up. My mum used to do an absolutely stonking pot roasted beef bourguignon with puff pastry lids. My dad on the other hand used to make an 'Ulster stew'. Mince, carrots, onions and potatoes. From what I'm told he only started using oxo cubes in it once he met my mum.
Hopefully mines more like my mums than my dads!

To feed 4:

  • 800g of shin of beef
  • 500g shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 110g pack of cubed pancetta
  • Few sprigs of thyme
  • 500g stout
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 500ml beef stock (I used a knorr stock pot)
  • Lemon
  • Small bunch of parsley

Put your oven onto 180°C and cut all your shallots in half, with the skin still on, drizzle with oil and bang in the oven. They should take about an hour till they're frazzled at the sides but still juicy in the middle. About half way through throw your garlic cloves in too.

beef stout

In your chosen stew pot, brown and render the fat from your pancetta. Some say this isn't necessary in a stew, but I think it will just add another layer of flavour. To get the ultimate in crispy lardons start them off in a cold pan and keep on a medium heat. You'll get a nice even colour. Once browned, remove from the pan.
Either get your butcher too, or cut your beef into inch and a half cubes. Toss these in seasoned flour and fry in batches in the bacon fat. You may need to add a knob of butter so there's enough fat to fry. Make sure you get a nice colour on your beef, this is where the flavour and colour of your stew will come from.

Once browned and removed, add your tomato purée in and fry for 30 seconds before adding your stout, stock, thyme, pancetta and beef back in.
Bring up to the boil and then turn down to a low simmer. Come back and check every 20 minutes for an hour, stirring, checking the liquid level and skimming.
Once your shallots and garlic are nicely roasted, peel them and add to your stew. At this time trim and peel your parsnips and carrots. Cut these into large pieces, with your celery and add to your stew.

bbef stout

Simmer for a further hour until the meat is falling apart, your vegetables are tender and the sauce is a nice, viscous, coating consistency.
Serve with creamy, buttery mash potato and gremolata, made from chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice and a drizzle of oil.

Winter warmer.

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