Returning from the kitchen garden this morning with cold hands and a selection of root vegetables my thoughts turned to the lovely stewing beef I had in the 'fridge. Beautiful beef marbled with just enough fat to make it tasty and moist from our very local butcher, fresh as the morning root vegetables, and the prospect of a chilly Winter's evening can mean only one thing - a heart-warming beef casserole served with creamed celeriac and potatoes and buttered cabbage.
As this recipe is slow cooked over many hours you can (and should) use cheaper cuts of meat - ask your butcher for some recommendations.
Winter Beef Casserole
1lb stewing beef
2 ozs plain flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 HG garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 HG leek, washed and sliced
6 small HG turnips, washed, peeled and cut into chunks (or left whole if very small)
About a quarter of a large HG celeriac, diced (the remainder of the celeriac will be used along with some potatoes to make a creamed celeriac and potato side dish)
15 fl ozs beef stock
5 fl ozs red wine
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
Heat some rapeseed oil in a large frying pan add the onions, leek and garlic and fry gently until softened, not browned. Add the turnips and celeriac and heat through.
Meanwhile mix the flour, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the chunks of beef and cover in the flour, stack on a plate ready to cook.
Remove the vegetables from the pan and place in the slow cooker pot. Add more oil to the frying pan and brown the meat in batches, adding the beef to the slow cooker as each batch is browned.
When all the beef has been browned add the red wine to the frying pan and bring to the boil. Boil vigorously until the alcohol has boiled off (you can tell by the smell of the boiling liquid). Add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce to the wine and bring back to the boil.
Add the liquid and 3 bay leaves to the slow cooker ensuring that the beef and vegetables are covered by the stock, if necessary adding some water.
Cook in the slow cooker on a medium setting for about 6-8 hours. Alternatively you can cook in a conventional oven on a low setting 140C for about 3 hours. Check the level of the liquid in the dish throughout the cooking time.