Friday 28 November 2008

Beef, Ale and Chestnut Stew

'Waste not, want not,' my mam always used to say to me, and despite screwing my face up each time she said it, it has been a lifelong lesson in frugality that has never been more relevant than it is now. The one positive thing to take from the current economic downturn is that it is making us all - hopefully - think a little more creatively in the home. So everything from using every scrap of food to budgeting your shopping is the hot topic in this crazy world we live in.

Making food for the whole family using cheaper cuts of meat is also a current much discussed topic, and in my opinion, the country is all the better for it. In days not so long ago when the country did not have the option of takeaways, ready meals and endless processed snacks, the nation cooked creatively using whatever they could get their hands on. How times have changed. But if there was ever a time to start being inspired to use a cheaper cut of meat, it is now.

The dinner plate isn't all about fillet steaks and racks of lamb; take a scrag end of lamb or perhaps a shin of beef and you can make all kinds of wonderful, tasty, filling and economic casseroles and soups to keep you all warm this winter without breaking the bank. Slow cooking is perhaps my favourite way of treating a piece of meat and the fattier, cheaper cuts of meat lend themselves to slow braising perfectly. What that process does is give you the tastiest, most sumptuous and tender meat you can wish for. So get the slow cookers out, spend a fiver on a cheap cut of meat and treat the family to a meal that laughs in the face of the credit crunch.

Beef, Ale and Chestnut Stew

Feeds 4

1kg skirt of beef, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
200ml dark beer
250ml beef stock
2 handfuls of cooked chestnuts
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper

1 - Preheat the oven to 150C/Fan 130C/GM2.
2 - In a large casserole dish, heat up the oil. Add the beef in batches and quickly cook until golden brown all over. Remove and set aside.
3 - Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook for 5-10 minutes until beginning to colour. Remove and set aside.
4 - Sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until combined. Then pour in the beer, bring to the boil and cook off for 2 minutes until reduced and thickened.
5 - Return the vegetables, beef and any juices to the pot then add the tomato puree and herbs and stir in. Pour in the stock stock, bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours, stirring on the hour.
5 - Add the chestnuts and mustard and cook for a further 20 minutes.
6 - Taste for seasoning. Serve with mashed potato and cabbage.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I am all for these comforting meals David. I see that Hannah gave you a Hard Working Blogger award...I agree you are one of the hardest working I know, always with a cheery face and delicious foods:D

Hollow Legs said...

I've been using cheap cuts of meat ever since I left home 4 or 5 years ago. It's great to have a lovely steak once in a while, but I also think that you can be a little more creative with cheaper cuts and they're very flavoursome.

Cynthia said...

Slow cooked is how I like my meats also, like you said, it is so much more comforting.

Anonymous said...

Looks great, perfect for winter nights:-)

Abitofafoodie said...

What could be better than a comforting casserole? I love to cook cheaper cuts of meat long and slow until they are falling apart. Last week I had a stunning dish of slow-cooked blade of beef in a restaurant - it had an amazing flavour. I don't know where to get that cut though - I must ask my butcher.

The H.I. said...

All you need is a bottle of beer in there and you're in business right?
Perfect food for this time of year. I grew up eating like this at home when I was a youngster.I can smell it cooking now!
Nice one Dave.

Jan said...

You're right, David. We are all watching out budgets right now, and your stew sounds like a delightful winter warmer.

Sam said...

I love the cheaper cuts of meat they're economical and really tasty too!

Anonymous said...

I love this David, this is exactly the sort of thing I am cooking at the moment - so warming, comforting and frugal! I am really liking the ale in there too. I have a stew of my own on the heat right now and I am also cooking up some chestnut goodies.

Chef Jeena said...

You are so right David.

I love the stew the colour is just fabulous. :-)

Rosie said...

My mum always said the same thing too!! Cheap cuts of meat are ideal slowly cooked with so much flavour to them. What a lovely looking stew David.

Rosie x

William Leigh said...

Love the inclusion of the chestnuts here. Another cracker matey.

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

David, one-pot meals like this are a typical feature of Greek cuisine, right back to the days of Leonidas and the 300! Good job, a hearty and tasty meal that is easy on any budget.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

"waste not, want not" is definitely appropriate these days. I'm with your mam. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG (the taste). Please keep posting some more recipes!

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