Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Beef and Tomato One Pot Stew with Christmas Tree Pastry

Beef and tomato stew may not be a classic Christmas dish but it is incredibly simple to make and tasty. Garnished with a puff pastry Christmas tree and a scattering of freshly chopped parsley, it can make a delicious, attractive and seasonal meal option, if not necessarily for Christmas Day, perhaps for Christmas Eve or any other day over the festive period.

Ingredients per Person

1/2lb stewing beef or steak
1 pint fresh chicken stock
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 green bell pepper
1/2 small red onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6oz puff pastry
Beaten egg for glazing pastry
Chopped parsley for garnish


It is important to firstly brown and seal the diced beef or steak. This beef was not particularly fatty so a little vegetable oil was firstly added to the pot. Add the beef, season with sea salt and pepper and brown over a high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

The green bell pepper should be halved and the seeds and stalk removed before it is sliced in to strips of around a half inch thick. The half red onion should be thinly sliced. Add the pepper, onion and chilli flakes to the browned beef. Season and fry off for a further couple of minutes.

Pour the chicken stock and tomatoes in to the pot. Turn up the heat until the liquid begins to boil then reduce to achieve the gentlest possible simmer.

The stew will take two and a half to three hours, simmering uncovered, until the beef is beautifully tender. Stir occasionally and monitor the liquid level, topping up if and when necessary with a little boiling water.

Roll the pastry out to a rectangle about four by six inches and to a thickness of around a quarter inch. You could use a template of a Christmas tree - or any other design you choose - but freehand was used to cut this tree from the dough with a small, very sharp knife. Very lightly grease a baking tray and lay the Christmas tree in the centre. Glaze with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 200C/400F for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until risen and golden.

Check the stew for seasoning and ladle or spoon in to a deep serving plate. Scatter with the chopped parsley garnish and lay the Christmas tree on top.

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