Back from my jaunt in the winter sun of Malta, it has now become time to settle into these colder winter nights that are fast drawing in. Blustering their way through one night into the next.
Me and cold weather don’t go particularly well together. I blame my 15 years spent growing up in Saudi, where it couldn’t get much hotter. Compared to that, anything is cold to me. Even the occasional ‘hot’ summer days we get here in England used to see me running for a coat or a jumper amidst proclamations of ‘it’s bloody freezing!!’ when I first moved back here. But in comparison to the average 30 degrees Celsius weather I was used to in the depths of winter in Jeddah, not to mention the 50 degrees plus that were standard in the summer, you’ll have to excuse me for thinking extra layers necessary!
One of the things I look forward to when this time of year rolls around is the winter warmers you get to add to the menu to fill you up and warm you through. You know the kind. Those big rich, hearty dishes that you just won’t have unless it’s cold. At no other time of the year is stew and dumpling on the menu, nor would you want it to be! So, naturally, this is one of the first things I love to make when cold hits.
I like to experiment with different beers and ales because I’ve never found one that I feel perfect. But this one has come pretty darn close! I made this recipe which should serve 6 with the assumption that it would feed 4 of us for dinner and I would have leftovers for lunch the next day. No. Helpings of seconds and thirds were taken and my casserole dish was left bare!
I opted to use Hobgoblin Gold for this stew. Something British, made down the road in Oxfordshire.
1.5kg beef shin (or other cuts best suited to long slow cooking)
500g Chantenay carrots
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bottle of Hobgoblin Gold
300 mls beef stock
1 tsp maple syrup
salt and pepper
3 tbsp lard or butter (or other cooking oil of your choice but it won’t impart as much flavour as these two)
1 bouquet garni (made up of thyme, parsley and 1 bay leaf)
1 tbsp corn flour
1. Cut your beef into cubes. The size isn’t too important, whatever suits you. It’ll be cooked so long that they will be tender no matter the size, but I try to make them about an inch all round.
2. Pour your oil of choice into a heavy bottomed oven proof casserole dish and put over a medium high heat. Once hot, add the beef and brown all over.
3. Once browned, remove to a side plate for the time being. Add the carrots (I leave these whole and washed but unpeeled) to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until just starting to colour and then add the chopped garlic. Allow to cook for about 20 -30 seconds then add all the beef and whatever juices have come out of the meat back into the pan.
4. Add the beef stock to the pan and give it all a good stir. Then add the bottle of Hobgoblin, the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Give it another stir. Then add the bouquet garni and make sure it is submerged.
5. Bring to the boil on the hob then stick a lid on and transfer to an oven set to 140 degrees Celsius (285 F) and leave to cook for about 4 hours. Check on it every hour and give it another stir.
6. When ready to serve, take the stew out of the oven and place on a low heat on the hob. Mix 1 tbsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp water and pour this into your stew. Stir in thoroughly. This will thicken your sauce up just lovely! And don’t forget to throw out the herbs!
I love to serve this with dumplings. And mashed potato. Just because I’m greedy..and it’s winter..why not have double carbs when I’m going to burn them all off keeping warm??!?
Is this not a good enough excuse for it to be winter?