Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Beef and Tomato One Pot Stew

This beef and tomato stew is incredibly easy to make and is delicious perhaps particularly on a cold Winter's night but very much at any time of year. The only possible drawback with this one pot stew is that it does require a good couple of hours' cooking time. The good news, however, is that making it one night, cooling it, refrigerating it and reheating it (thoroughly) for dinner the next night gives the flavours additional time to infuse and makes it even more tasty. Try serving it with some warmed chunks of fresh, crusty bread.

The beef I have used in this recipe is shin of beef. That is not simply because shin of beef is one of the most inexpensive cuts of beef you can buy but very much because, when the time is taken to cook it properly, it is also one of the tastiest.

Ingredients for Two People

3/4lb shin of beef
1 14oz can of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 pint of fresh beef stock
1/2 medium white onion
1 green bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp freshly chopped basil leaves (plus two small sprigs for garnish)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chop the shin of beef in to three-quarters to one inch chunks. Any excess fat can be discarded but do not trim off all the fat. It is the fat which will keep the beef moist and tender during cooking and which also contains a lot of the flavour. Heat the olive oil gently in a large stew pot and add the beef to brown, stirring it frequently with a wooden spoon for three or four minutes until completely and evenly sealed.

Finely slice the half onion and the garlic. Cut the green bell pepper in half and remove and discard the seeds and white inner membrane. Slice to a quarter inch thickness. Do note, however, that only half the pepper is incorporated in the stew and the remainder is reserved to garnish and add a little bit of crunch to the presented dish.

Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the beef. Stir well and cook for two to three minutes, while you heat the beef stock in a separate pot. Add the canned tomatoes to the mix, followed by the seasoning (salt and pepper) and beef stock and bring to a simmer.

It will take at least two hours, perhaps two and a half, for the shin of beef to become properly tender. Stir the stew occasionally during this time and watch that it is not becoming too thick and devoid of moisture. If necessary, add a little bit of boiling water as required, to ensure there is always some liquid present and that it does not burn.

When the beef is tender, add the chopped basil, stir through and cook for a further five minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with the remaining strips of bell pepper and sprigs of basil. Alternatively, cool and refrigerate for a quick and easy dinner the following evening.

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