The damp, cold, dark evenings of autumn bring about an almost overnight change in my food cravings. I suddenly demand the comfort of mashed potato (I am an unrepentant mash fiend) and I want it accompanied by any kind of dark, sticky, rich meat stew I can lay my greedy little paws on.
I made this stew the other night for dinner. To be honest, I’d forgotten how incredibly easy it is to chuck something like this together. Yeah there’s a bit of chopping, a bit of prep, but I actually quite enjoy the methodical nature of getting your ingredients ready. I find it almost calming. I also reckon part of the enjoyment is definitely having the right tools for the job, a decent peeler and a nice sharp knife. If instead of a smooth slicing action, you’re frustratingly hacking away at something with a blunt as assholes blade, then where’s the frigging Zen in that? Once your chopping is done, the actual hands-on cooking part takes no time at all. It’s just a case of slinging it in the oven and forgetting about it for a couple of hours.
You may not be able to easily lay your hands on beef rib trim. The butchers, Donald Russell sent me some ages ago and it’s been lurking at the back of my freezer. If not don’t worry, substitute for beef shin or stewing steak. You can use any braising or casserole type cut of beef, cubed really. They all work the same, more or less. You may just have to cook it a bit longer, which in the case of a stew is no real effort at all.
The addition of star anise to beef is something I once saw Heston Blumenthal banging on about on TV. It may seem ridiculously cheffy and frivolous, but it definitely works. It’s bloody lovely. Don’t be a chump and go leaving it out
For full rib sticking effect, I suggest serving this with mash (my recipe is here and it’s banging, even if I do say so myself) and some kind of sautéed greens. Oh, and if you’re a real greedy bastard, some crusty bread slathered with butter to mop up with.
Beef Rib Trim Stew
Serves 2 (Generously)
You’ll Need: -
500g beef rib trim (Or beef shin) cut into 3cm cubes
Maldon Sea Salt
2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthways, sliced into 6cm pieces
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 Large onion, chopped
Half a leek, chopped
2 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp Treacle
Bottle of dark beer or stout (I used Wild Beer Co, Wildebeest)
500ml – 1 litre Beef Stock
1 Star Anise
Handful Chestnut Mushrooms, halved
Handful of Parsley, finely chopped
White Pepper to serve (optional - well, not frigging really, but...)
Preheat your oven to 160C
Get a large saucepan or casserole with a lid, put it on the hob over a fairly high heat and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
Season your cubed beef generously and get it nice and browned in the pan. You may have to do it in a couple of batches, if you crowd it, instead of getting a nice golden sear, the meat kind of steams and you don’t want that, no.
Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Add the carrots, onion, leek a grind of pepper and a good pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly until it’s starting to cook down and brown. You may need to add a little more oil.
Sling in the mushrooms and bay leaves. Cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the tomato purée, stir it in so everything’s coated and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add the beef back in, along with the star anise and the treacle, stir and then pour in your bottle of stout.
Then add beef stock to cover. If you have it, use proper beef stock, if you don’t, make some up with an Oxo cube. Lets not be snobby about it. Use what you can lay your hands on; it’ll still taste great.
Bring to the boil; whack the lid on and place in the preheated oven for 1 ½ - 2 hours until the meat is tender and breaks apart when poked with a fork and the whole thing is looking pretty damn dark, sticky and gelatinous.
Heap into bowls, scatter with finely chopped parsley, mashed potato, sautéed greens and a good dusting of white pepper.