Monday, 19 December 2011

Talk of Joy*

Although it isn't from a cookbook, and therefore doesn't qualify for my cookbook challenge, I wanted to post about my fabulous made-up beef stew/casserole...

I've made it a few times, and decided it would be a good dinner last night, as it was so bitterly cold yesterday *shivers*

The recipe is pretty much made up by me, so there aren't really any proper measurements, but that's kinda the point *laughs*

One thing I should note is that I don't tend to put vegetables in. I don't like the texture of them when they've been cooked in a stew, so I serve roasted root veg on the side. But you can throw in any veg you want of course ;)

So, how I make it... This isn't so much a recipe as a bunch of stuff I do, but it's good!

Dust the beef chunks with a mixture of flour, salt, pepper and a teaspoon(ish) of dried mustard powder, before browning in a pan (by the way, if you want to make this in the slow cooker, it works perfectly - apart from needing some thickening at the end - and if you put it on in the morning then I really wouldn't bother browning the meat, who wants to do that first thing?!)

Throw the meat into the casserole dish/slow cooker. 

I then cover it in a sauce made from the following:

  • Stock - whatever you fancy. I put a lot of extra flavour in, so it really doesn't have to be beef stock. Vegetable stock actually works really well
  • Oxo cube (or 2 - depending how much I'm making!)
  • Generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Few drops Tabasco sauce
  • Tablespoon of Bovril. You can use Marmite instead, but I like to use Bovril for the really meaty taste. I don't actually like marmite or bovril, but they add a wonderful savouriness to stews and gravies. 
  • Generous glug of HP Steak Sauce. This one I add because it is kinda tangy and cuts through the rich flavours, but it isn't necessary. 
  • Generous squeeze of tomato puree
  • Splash of red wine if you have any going spare ;)

Of course, you can add any flavours you like, and omit any you don't, but this is the combination that I have found to give a really wonderful, rich stew. Enough liquid to cover the beef is perfect. 

Just in case you're not familiar with some of those ingredients:

Cook for hours... Scientific, I know *laughs* In the slow cooker, I would put it on low and cook all day, in the oven, probably 180 degrees for 3-4 hours, on the hob over a low heat for 3-4 hours. But it depends really, so I just keep checking on it. 

Like I said earlier, slow cooker versions will probably need some thickening as there is less reduction of the liquid. 

You can put the veg in with the stew, or do as I do and serve it alongside honey roast root veg:

I love having slightly crisp, caramelised carrots and parsnips to dip into the gravy *grins* I roast them in duck/goose fat, with seasoning and a drizzle of honey. I had some baby potatoes needing to be used up, so I threw them in as well. 

* "Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread - there may be." David Grayson


  1. Fabulous quote, and a very good looking stew! Hope you both enjoyed it.

  2. That's my kind of recipe/non-recipe. Thanks, I've been looking for inspiration for stews so maybe I'll give yours a try!

  3. I usually put my veggies right in with the stew but I like your idea of roasting them separately. Btw, your balsamic and honey sausage recipe from a short while ago was a HUGE hit in my house, so thank you! I've made it twice since then.

  4. Oh that sounds so good! I have a recipe I make where I roast the stew beef and veggies in the oven and then put them in a pot on the stove. The flavor is so bolder than a boiled stew and the vegetables have a bit of firmness.

  5. Bovril is a curious product. I don't think we have that here!

  6. Deelish! I'll be over in 20 minutes for a bowlful. ;)

  7. mmmm nom nom you had me at "talk of joy" *grins* will have to try this!! looks really yummy! thanks for sharing xx


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