Food and drink

Winter Stew

As we’re in the merciless grip of the worst snow for 45 years it’s definitely time to break out the big guns. Winter stews, casseroles, anything that takes a few hours of cooking with lots of big flavours, root vegetables and plenty of leftovers.

My winter stew is a continual work in progress. It’s a bit different every time I make it but essentially has beef, carrots, parsnips, neeps (swede) and usually tatties (excluded this time) cooked in stock for 2 hours. I left the spuds out on this occasion as I put a huge amount of root veg in and figured it would be enough without the extra carbs, plus I’d added a load of mushrooms to bulk it up some more.

A good glug of alcohol, to deglaze the pan after browning the ingredients and add some more muscle to the stock is a good idea as well. I’m running low on beer and red wine at the moment but still had a bottle of Innis & Gunn to hand from my recent birthday haul, so that is poured in with the stock (some of it may have been diverted into my mouth on the way in).

Cook it as a stew on the hob or in a large casserole dish for a couple of hours until the sauce is thick and the beef is tender.

It’s a warming dish guaranteed to fill you up on a cold winters night. Great fuel for shovelling the snow out of your driveway!

Serves 4-6

1 large onion, chopped
500g diced beef
3 carrots
3 parsnips
1 neep
Chestnut mushrooms
500ml beef stock
1 bottle strong dark beer
Bay leaf
Parsley, chopped
Plain flower seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Peel and chop the veg. Set it to one side in a casserole dish.
Gently fry the onions in some oil until soft and starting to brown. Add to the casserole dish.
Coat the beef in the seasoned flour and brown in the frying pan with some oil. Once the beef has some colour on it add it to the casserole as well.
Finally brown the mushrooms and throw them in with the rest of the veg and meat.
Deglaze the pan with most of the beer, let it simmer for a bit to develop the flavour then pour it into the dish.
Drink the rest of the beer.
Add the stock, some seasoning, bay leaf and stir everything together.
Cover the casserole dish and place in the onion for a couple of hours, checking it occasionally to give it a stir and test seasoning.
Once the sauce is thick and the meat is tender serve it up with some buttered bread and freeze the leftovers for more cold nights to come!

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