Simple French Beef Stew
"Make this ahead and serve with a basket of bread to mop up the savoury juices"
Olive oil/butter for sautéing
4 rashers bacon, chopped
1 kg beef steak (skirt or cross-cut blade), cubed
3 Tbsp flour
½ tsp ground black pepper
1-2 bay leaves
3 tsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2-3 courgettes, chopped (opt)
½ cup chopped mushrooms (opt)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly chopped parsley and herbs
Heat olive oil in frypan, add bacon and meat and brown beef well on all sides. Take care to do this in small batches so the meat does not “stew” rather than brown.
Once coloured on all sides, place in casserole.
Add more butter/oil to pan and add flour, herbs and seasoning to pan. Scrape off all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the flour is lightly coloured add the stock, wine, tomato paste and pinch of sugar to deglaze the pan. Allow to cook out and thicken, then pour over the beef in the casserole. Cover and cook in oven for 3 hours at 150degC.
Melt another knob of butter in the pan and cook the onions, carrot, courgettes and mushrooms until lightly coloured. Add to casserole after 1 hour of cooking.
Season with salt and pepper.
* You can add other vegetables -for example mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes and kumara if desired. If your stew is not as thick as you desire when it is completely cooked just blend 2 tbsp soft butter with 2 tbsp flour and add to the hot stew. It will thicken and add gloss to the stew.
To serve: Place the stew in a bowl and serve with a basket of bread to mop up the gravy. Top each bowl of stew with a generous scatter of chopped herbs.