Beef stew can be memorable or it can be disappointing and underwhelming. At its best it is an ages old basic dish made with few ingredients – beef, onion, carrots and mushrooms – producing a rich tasting sauce served with mashed potatoes and, in my family, roasted Brussels sprouts. I buy chuck steak and cut it into bite size pieces (in a stew you want some fat on the beef) and I toss it in cornflour seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sear it in hot oil before adding it to the slow cooker. Searing the beef and browning it all over will add flavor to the stew and the cornflour will thicken the sauce. What you really want to end up with is a rich tasting sauce that almost binds the meat and puddles over the mashed potatoes (you do not want a watery lake of a sauce). If you think the sauce is too thin you can take a little bit out and mix it with half a tablespoon of cornflour, pour it back into the stew and let it thicken more. A little red wine never goes amiss! Add the juice of half a lemon to ‘pop’ the flavor at the end of cooking – it really does work.
3 tbsp. oil
1 largish onion – chopped, but not too finely
2 large cloves of garlic – grated
2 pounds of chuck steak – cubed
1 tbsp. cornflour seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. carrots – sliced and cut in to quarters
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms – cut in to quarters
1 cup beef stock
1 cup of red wine
Juice of half a lemon
Heat 1 tbsp. in a frying pan and, when sizzling, add the onion and let soften and brown then add the garlic and cook for another few minutes. Place onion and garlic in the slow cooker.
Mix the beef with a tbsp. of seasoned cornflour.
Add 1 more tbsp. of oil and, when nice and hot, spoon half of the meat into the frying pan and sear on all sides. Place in the slow cooker. Repeat the process with the second half of the beef.
Tip the carrots and mushrooms into the slow cooker and pour over the broth and wine.
Cook on high for 6 hours. Add lemon juice and serve.