- STEP 1
Slice your blade steak, beef skirt or stewing steak into bite size chunks then dredge them with a mixture of plain flour and some smoked Paprika (the easiest way is to put the meat, flour and the Paprika into a freezer bag or something similar and shake it about until the meat is coated)
- STEP 2
Melt 50 gm Beef dripping or some olive or rapeseed oil into a good sized saucepan; put it onto a hot hob until the dripping/oil comes up to temperature (just barely beginning to smoke) Brown the steak in batches (if you put too much in at a time it won't brown very well, it'll just steam because of all the water they pump into supermarket beef these days) season with salt and black pepper and keep it moving in the pan to avoid burning, then put each batch aside onto a dish before you brown the next batch. N.B. The browning process helps to evaporate the added water that the supermarkets pump into their meat to increase the weight and then caramelises the sugars in the meat which enhances the flavour of the stew, so it's quite important but be careful not to burn it. If the pan gets too watery, between batches, tip it out and start the next batch in fresh hot oil or dripping.
- STEP 3
Turn the heat down to medium Now throw in the chopped onion, the garlic (through a garlic press or finely sliced) and a finely sliced leek and let them soften for 5 minutes or so - be careful they don't burn Then add your veg chopped into bite size bits and let them soften, stirring occasionally for up to 10 minutes (You can use almost any veg but I normally use carrots (cut into coins), diced parsnips, diced swede and button mushrooms. I don't peel the carrots and parsnips just give them a good wash and slice off the tops and the bottoms before dicing them) When the veg has softened put the meat back into the pan and give it a good stir until the meat warms up Then gradually add some good beef stock and Guiness (50/50%) stirring all the time until the mixture thickens a bit cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 2 hours (if you have time; if not it should be ok between 1 and 2 hours on the simmer). Keep an eye on and if it gets too dry just add a bit more stock, Guinness or plain water. If it is too wet, remove the lid, stir and let it reduce to the consistency you want.
- STEP 4
This is good served with buttery mashed potato, wilted spinach & pine nuts with baked fennel bulbs Cooks Tip: I often throw in a couple of chopped, tinned anchovy fillets when I add the meat back to the veg which adds to the flavour but if you don’t have any just use a teaspoon of Marmite instead. Trust me the Marmite works in this recipe.
- STEP 5
Baked Fennel Bulbs: Pre-heat your oven to 200 C. Slice the bulbs in half lengthwise and remove only the very outer leaves. spread a generous layer of unsalted butter onto the sliced surface of each half, season very generously with fresh ground black pepper and press the two halves back together, wrap the bulb tightly in cooking foil. Repeat the process for as many bulbs as you need. Place the wrapped bulbs into an oven tray or roasting tin and cook at 200C for 45 minutes. Remove and either serve straight away or keep warm in a low oven until you are ready to dish up then carefully unwrap (be careful they should be hot) and serve with the stew, spinach and mashed spuds.