It’s very seldom I eat red meat, apart from mince (ground beef) the occasional time. Over the weekend I couldn’t think of what to cook. Excepting for two things: I wanted to use up certain veg in my cupboard, including fresh tomatoes, and was hankering after a tomato based sauce. This Beef Stew is tomatoey – fresh, canned and puréed. The fresh tomatoes I simply slice in half, put on low heat in a heavy-based pan with a little oil and let them cook until they melt. Then, they’re rubbed through a fine wire metal sieve with a wooden spoon. All of the sediment in the pan is lifted, too, with a little water to grab all of the gooey and caramelised flavours.
This is less to do with meat. Rather, it’s a sauce that I devour with lots of buttery mash. If you want a dish with more meat I would double the amount used but keep the other ingredients as is. I’d also be careful when browning the meat. I left the pan, only for a couple of minutes, only to realise the meat had gone a shade too brown in places. Whereas it should be a golden-brown. To compensate I left this on lowest heat (with a lid) for nearly 4 hours. The beef was not only incredibly tender but this dish was perfect timing for my sups.
Normally I would add a capful of Balsamic vinegar to a tomato based sauce, especially during winter. With the lemon used here I don’t think it’s necessary. A handful of pitted black olives would be a nice accompaniment.
Beef Stew, with a tomato and herb sauce
- oil, either rapeseed or olive
- 1 x 330g (11.64 oz) pack beef braising steak, most of the fat removed and discarded, meat cut into rough cubes
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 x medium tomatoes, sliced in half
- 150g (5.29 oz) x shallots, small peeled and kept whole, long peeled and sliced into rings
- 200g (7.05 oz) x celery sticks, washed, trimmed and cut into 3 pieces
- 4 x garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in 2 or 3 pieces
- 1 x 400g (14.10 oz) can plum tomatoes in tomato juice, all green bits picked out, and skin removed and discarded and tomatoes mashed
- 300ml (0.63 pt US Liq) x water
- 1 x beef OR vegetable stock cube
- 3 x tablespoons tomato purée
- 1/4 x scant teaspoon cayenne pepper OR 1/4 – 1/2 x teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less to begin with and add more to personal taste)
- 1 x red chilli, washed and kept whole – optional
- 4 x sprigs fresh thyme – I use *living pots*, washed
- up to 4 x fresh curly parsley stems, washed
- 2 x dried bay leaves, ripped
- 300g (10.58 oz) x carrots, peeled and cut in half
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- After washing and preparing the meat add to a large heavy-based saucepan that has been preheated on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) with enough oil to coat its base. Allow to settle but don’t leave the pan. Stir through occasionally to prevent any of the meat sticking to the base. Continue to cook until all of the meat is nicely golden brown.
- Whilst browning the meat add the fresh tomatoes to a heavy-based pan with enough oil to coat its base. Put on heat No 2 and allow to pan-fry for about 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking time and reducing the heat to No 1 if necessary. When nicely sticky take off heat and set aside.
- Take the saucepan with the beef off heat, tilt the pan slightly and with a wad of kitchen paper carefully soak up as much of the excess fat/oil as possible. Then, pour over the juice of 1/2 a freshly squeezed lemon, and a little drizzle of oil. Reduce heat to No 2 and continue to cook whilst preparing the other ingredients. Do stir through occasionally to prevent scorching.
- After preparing the shallots, garlic and celery add them to the beef and stir through. Keep heat at No 2 and cook for about 10 minutes to allow you time to mash the tomatoes.
- Pour the can of tomatoes into a suitable container, remove any green bits and skin and discard. Mash the tomatoes as smoothly as possible. When the shallots have started to soften pour over the tomatoes. When the fresh tomatoes are cooked pour some of them into a fine wire metal sieve over the saucepan with the beef. Rub them through with a wooden spoon, scraping all of the purée from underneath. Discard the pulp left in the sieve. Continue to do this until all of the tomatoes have been rubbed through. Sprinkle a little water into their saucepan and stir through to help lift all of the sediment and add this by pouring it through the sieve to the beef.
- Pour the water into the beef and add the stock cube. Sprinkle over the cayenne/red pepper flakes. Add the chilli, if using. Scatter over the fresh thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Add the tomato purée/concentrate and stir well. Up the heat to No 4 and cover with a lid. When at boiling point reduce heat to No 2 and continue to cook for about 1 hour, stirring through occasionally. Reduce the heat to No 1 and continue to cook for up to another hour, stirring through occasionally.
- About 40 minutes before end of cooking time add the carrots. That way they won’t go mushy. They could also be removed before serving and reheated with a little oil and honey.
- Serve with lots of creamy, buttery mash.
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