The weather has been so unpredictable lately that it has been a challenge to decide in the morning what we’ll be wanting to eat by the evening. Saturday was quite warm with a hint of sunshine so fish was on the menu, however with rain forecast for today I went for a comforting beef stew. This is a stew with attitude, it’s all about the spices and the slow cooking giving the warm flavours time to develop.
I used good quality Dexter beef from Pick’s Organic Farm stall at the Walthamstow Farmers Market and served it with couscous and a stir fry of rainbow chard and lentil sprouts. The sprouts were in our OrganicLea vegetable box apparently as a filler to bridge the growing-food gap between the end of spring into summer. The chard was from Growing Communities at Stoke Newington Farmers Market.
500g Dexter stewing beef
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp rape seed oil
1 roughly chopped onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tsp sweet, smoked paprika
1 tsp hot paprika
2 tbsp fruit / onion chutney (we used homemade apricot & marrow)
5-6 large dried dates, roughly chopped
300g tomato passata
800ml water or chicken stock
salt & pepper
Take a large bowl, add the flour and roll the beef in it until covered. On the hob, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large heavy pan that has a lid. Add the flour coated beef and brown the meat, then remove from the pan to a plate and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook on a low heat until soft. Put the meat back into the pan and add all the other ingredients, except the water. I often add chutney to stews to add intense flavours – it’s also good if you want to use up a jar that has been kicking around the fridge for too long! I choose an onion-based apricot and marrow chutney which married well with the dates and paprika flavours.
Increase the heat and bring the tomato sauce to almost bubbling before adding the water. Now cover with a lid and put the pan into a preheated oven at 200C/ 400F/ Gas Mark 5 for 2-3 hours. Check and stir every hour.
We served it with couscous and stir-fried greens, but the stew would also go well with mashed potatoes, brown rice or polenta.