Traditional Beef Stew with a Twist (serves 4)

First stew of the season. Cooking a stew isn’t complicated but it can’t be rushed. The onion needs to be softened and slightly browned, the chunks of beef need to be tossed in seasoned cornflour and then seared on all sides at a high temperature which achieves two things: browning the meat deepens the flavor of the broth and the cornflour thickens it. I skipped this step once and the resulting stew was tasteless – lesson learnt. Cooking time will be two hours during which time you will need to be around to give it the odd stir. For me what constitutes a good stew is tender meat – it doesn’t need to be an expensive cut of beef because a long cooking time will render the meat tender, and a full-flavored sauce for which you need a good broth. There are many, many variations of this dish – some people add red wine or tomato paste. I omit celery, add garlic and the twist is a can of cannellini beans which increases the bulk of the stew in a healthy way. Serve it with anything that can sop up the juices though I don’t think anything beats mashed potatoes.

3 tbsp. olive oil seasoned each time with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 largish onion – chopped
2 large garlic cloves – grated
2 pounds of stewing beef
2 tbsp. cornflour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 good-size carrots – sliced quite thickly and cut in two
2 cups beef broth
1 can of cannellini beans

Pour 1 tbsp. of oil into a large skillet or Dutch oven and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and slightly brown.
During this time place the meat in a mixing bowl, spoon over the cornflour, season and toss meat until it is well coated.
Add the garlic to the onion and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove onions and garlic from the pan and place on a plate.
Turn the heat up higher, pour 1 tbsp. of oil into the skillet and, again, when sizzling put half the meat in and sear on all sides. When nicely browned remove from the pan and place on a plate. Repeat with the other half of the meat.
Turn the heat down a bit, put the onions and carrots in the pan and pour over the broth. Bring to a boil, turn heat down again and simmer for 2 hours, adding the cannellini beans after one hour.


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