Living in London, or anywhere with a decent winter, you need a few recipes like this in your arsenal. This is heavily based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe (dedicated to his wife) – “Jools’ Stew,” though with a few of my own variations and now known to me as ‘The Winter Stew.’
When the weather gets cool – as it does ever so quickly in London! – I like to make this in the slow cooker on the weekend, and then eat it throughout the week. Obviously by day 5 you’re super over it, so I’ll often freeze single or double portions for later. To keep it exciting, mix up what you serve it with; mashed sweet potato, potato gratin, quinoa, polenta, pasta or even as a soup covered in parmesan! I also like to serve it with some piping hot green beans covered in butter.
My love of “stew” was born out of an obsession I had as a teenager with ragù sauce and pasta. In order to achieve the required soft meaty sauce, I tried and tested many recipes – some of which were stews. Ultimately a ragù and a stew must be cousins as they are very similar at their core – both saucy, both hearty and both great in the winter. And so whilst I still love a ragù, my slow cooking skills have developed beyond this and so I also equally love the very similar, but distinct, humble stew.
One of the best things about Jamie’s original recipe is the idea of serving something so hearty and rich, topped with grated lemon zest and parsley – it is a wonderful fresh contrast. In fact the only thing I don’t like about this recipe is how difficult it was to photograph!
If you are fructose intolerant, just omit the onion and use garlic oil instead of garlic. To make the stew entirely Gluten Free – the flour to coat the beef can be replaced with a GF plain flour or another GF flour like Buckwheat flour.
If you would prefer to cook this in the oven, just use a heavy-based casserole dish and fry off everything in the dish first before tipping in everything else. Cook on 150ºC for 3 -4 hours. Failing that, you can also cook the recipe on the stove top.
Generally don’t stress about the quantities or if you are missing something – it’s very adaptable and should really work out whatever goes in (within reason!).
- 2 brown onions
- 2 sticks of celery
- 4 garlic cloves
- small handful fresh sage
- 3 parsnips, celeriac or swede
- 1/2 butternut squash
- 3 carrots
- 1 Bouquet garni (or a mix of some rosemary, thyme and bay leaves)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 800 grams stewing steak or beef skirt
- 2 tbsp plain flour (or GF flour)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1/2 bottle red wine
- 285 ml organic beef or vegetable stock
- 1 lemon
- A handful flat leaf parsley
Turn your slow cooker on high. Prep your vegetables: peel and roughly chop the onion, parsnips (swede/celeriac) and carrots into 1-2cm pieces. Deseed and roughly dice the squash. Finely dice the celery and garlic cloves.
Heat a little butter or oil in a fry pan and gently fry the garlic, onions, celery and sage for 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, dice the beef into roughly 4cm pieces. Then toss the beef in a little salt, pepper and flour, and add it to the pan to cook until browned. You may need to do this in two batches.
Once done, add the cooked onion, garlic and beef into the slow cooker along with: the parsnips, carrots, squash, tomato paste, mustard, wine, bouquet garni/herbs and stock. Stir to mix all the ingredients together. Season generously with black pepper and just a little sea salt.
Place a lid on top and cook until the meat is really tender (around 5 hours should do the trick!). Do check it about half way and turn the setting to low if it's looking too dry.
Check the seasoning when it’s cooked and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.
To serve, top with grated lemon zest and fresh parsley.