For people who care about their food

Basic beef stew

We usually buy stewing steak by the kilo. There’s no way that Mr Not Delia and I are going to eat that much meat between us in one meal – that’s more like enough for three meals for the two of us. So what I always do is cook several beef dishes at the same time.

For instance, I might cook goulash soup, beef stew and meat and potato pasties all on the same day. What I do is cook the stewing steak first, divide it into three portions and proceed to make the goulash soup with one of the portions of the cooked meat, and go on to make beef stew and pasties with the other two. All of these dishes can be frozen successfully so we’ll end up with three meals from one batch of cooking. Now that’s what I call how to cheat at cooking! (But I’m starting to feel like that Indian goddess, I’ve forgotten her name – you know, the one with eight arms.)

I’m cooking the meat in a pressure cooker but you don’t have to do it that way – a cast-iron casserole or other heavy pot will do well too. But whichever way you choose, you really MUST brown the meat properly first or it’ll just be grey and stringy. See my basic method for cooking cubes of stewing steak and how to brown the meat before simmering it for a couple of hours or cooking it in a pressure cooker.

Beef stew - browned stewing steak with carrots, onions and stockHaving browned the meat, I sweat off the carrot and onion in the same pot, and add Marmite and enough water to cover all the ingredients. Then I pressure cook it for about 40 minutes. It probably shouldn’t take so long but the quality of beef isn’t great where we live.

This is your basic mix from which you can make all sorts of things: brown Windsor soup (hmm, I wasn’t terribly keen on that), chilli con carne, beef stew, steak pie, etc. But you might want to leave out the carrot for some of those.

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