Heartwarming & Comforting Irish Beef Stew

  
The nights are getting darker earlier, the trees are putting on a spectacular autumnal display of fabulous golden and rusett colours and there is a definitely a cooler nip in the air. What is better to come home to than a beautiful, flavoursome, warm bowl of stew, it’s practically a hug in a bowl! If you’re Irish like me this might transport you back to memories of your school days when you would come home to the smell of gorgeous stew wafting through the house bubbling away ready to warm the cockles of your heart. This comes in at 9 propoints and serves 6 (it’s free on filling and healthy). Here’s the skinny:  
800g lean steak pieces

1kg bag baby potatoes halved

2 onions finely diced

4 carrots peeled and chopped

2 stalks of celery peeled and chopped

2 parsnips peeled and chopped

1 pint of beef stock

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon tomato purée 

2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

Chopped fresh rosemary

Chopped fresh thyme 

Chopped fresh parsley 

Salt and black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tin plum tomatoes

30g cornflour  

Pre-heat the oven to 160 Celsius. Heat a large pot and spray with spray oil. Gently fry the onions, carrots, celery and parsnips for approximately five minutes until they are softening, add in the crushed garlic for the last 30 seconds. Tip the meat halved baby potatoes and softened veg into a large Pyrex dish or casserole dish. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes (just slice through them whilst still in the tin with a sharp knife if they are whole plum tomatoes). Add all the herbs and season with salt and pepper add the tomato purée and pour over the beef stock. Fold everything gently together with a wooden spoon. Gently fold the bay leaves in half and tuck them into the top where they can be easily removed but are touching the stock to infuse their flavour. Cover with a lid. Some people cook stew for just an hour and a half but I find this needs nearer 2 hours. Check it regularly you will know when the potatoes and veg are cooked & soft it is done. To thicken the stew mix 30g cornflour with a tiny amount of water to make a smooth paste in a mug pour into the stew and gently stir it through return to the oven for the last 15 to 20 minutes and this should thicken your stew nicely, you might find leaving the lid off will help this process, keep a close eye so it doesn’t dry out. You can remove the bay leaves at that stage. If you find that the stew doesn’t need thickening reduce the points to 8 propoints per serving. I recommend you use this fresh over a few days as cooked potatoes do not freeze well. This will last 3 to 4 days covered in a refrigerator. I hope you enjoy!  

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The Importance of Flavour 

  I May have a Very Very Slight Herb & Spices Obsession! I always stock my cupboards with plenty of flavours & have fresh herbs growing in my garden too, Fresh Basil, Coriander, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Chives, Parsley & Oregano are always on hand. Herbs & Spices are your best friends when it comes to weight loss, they’re mostly free on plan & add tonnes of flavour to transform banal dishes into culinary masterpieces. They also ensure you never get bored of the same foods & tastes as you can mix it up all the time. They are relatively cheap to buy & rarer Herbs & Spices have come to the fore in recent years and are much more easily accessible to source & buy. Pick something new up next time you’re shopping & experiment with different & exciting flavours. If you’re a newcomer to the cooking scene I have compiled a handy guide that I’ve attached to show what Herbs & Spices go best with different Meats & Vegetables. I hope this helps you explore & experiment and widen your culinary repertoire if you’re just starting out or a little unsure. The world is your oyster when you have a collection of well rounded flavour enhancements at your fingertips!