Saturday, March 01, 2008

Beef Stew

You can use cheap cuts of beef for this recipe like shin or flank. Even though those cuts might contain sinew, the slow cooking will melt them and you'll end up with tender cubes of meat that almost fall apart.

1. Chop beef into cubes and coat it with some plain (all purpose) flour, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of paprika, all mixed together. Dry fry in a bit of oil, in small portions, until all the meat is brown. It's not cooked at this point, just brown on the outside. Put the meat aside on a plate.
2. Add one chopped onion - another way of adding flavour to food. Even if you don't like the taste of raw onion, it should be added to food because it will add a depth of flavour you won't get without it. Fry the onion until it too is a light brown colour. When it's light brown, that means you've also caramelised the sugars in the onion - and therefore developed its flavour.
3. Chop up two carrots and two sticks of celery. Again, you don't have to like the flavour of these foods as they won't taste like they taste fresh, but they'll add flavour to your dish. Cook these vegetables until the celery has turned bright green.
4. Add pinch of salt and pepper and stir. It's much better to add small amounts of salt and pepper throughout this type of cooking, instead of once large amount at the end. Adding small amounts at the various stages will add layers of flavour instead of just adding seasoning.
5. At this point you could add a variety of other flavours - such as chilli, tomato, paprika, curry etc - or you could leave them out and go on to the next step. If you so add an extra flavour, add it, stir it in and make sure it's well incorporated into the other ingredients before going on.
6. Add the meat back to the pot and pour in some stock or water, enough to just cover the meat, a small amount of salt and pepper, stir again, bring to the boil and stir again. Place the lid on the pot and put it in the oven to slowly cook (150C) for about 2 hours.
When it's cooked, taste for flavour. At this point the meat will be tender and there will be a thick sauce covering the meat. Serve with mashed potato and green beans.

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