Main Course / Traditional British
Preparation time: 30minutes
Cooking time: 3hours
Submitted by: Lead Cooks Working Group
750g chuck (a shoulder cut) or stewing beef, or shin (boneless weight), trimmed and cut into generous chunks
125g pancetta or thick streaky bacon, cut into slightly smaller chunks than the beef
25g (2tbsp) butter or meat dripping or vegetable oil
15g (1 generous tbsp) butter for the mushrooms
250g baby onions, peeled but left whole
up to 25g plain flour, mixed with a little salt and pepper
500ml beef or chicken stock, made up with a stock cube if neccessary
1 bouquet garni* (sold in supermarket spice sections), optional
125g button mushrooms
125g flat open-cup mushrooms, sliced about 5mm thick
870g potatoes, for mashing
about 25g (2tbsp) butter for the mashed potatoes
4 tbsp single or double cream for the potatoes
*A bouquet garni is made of herbs (usually bay leaves, thyme sprigs and parsley stalks) tied together in a small muslin bag
1. Heat the butter (or dripping or oil) in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the pancetta or streaky bacon quickly on all sides until most of the fat runs. Transfer the meat that is left to a large casserole or large saucepan.
2. In the same fat in the frying pan, gently fry the baby onions, over medium-low heat shaking occassionally until they are lightly browned all over. Add them to the casserole.
3. Toss the beef in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess, and cook it on all sides in the same pan, in batches, transferring it to the casserole when the chunks are nicely coloured.
4. Pour a little of the stock into the hot frying pan, scraping any residue from the base of the pan with a wooden spoon and pouring it all into the casserole.
5. Pour in the rest of the stock, adding a little water only if needed to cover the meat, and the bouquet garni, if using. Seaon with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer very gently, covered but with the lid slightly off.
6. Cook the stew for about 2 hours if using chuck or stewing beef - or cook the stew for about 3 hours if using shin - until the meat is completely tender. (Add a little hot water if the meat starts to get exposed and dry out). Discard the bouquet garni, if using, before serving.
7. About an hour before the meat is ready, melt the butter for the mushrooms in a saucepan or small frying pan over a medium-low heat. Stir in the button mushrooms and mushroom slices, coating them in the butter. Reduce the heat and let them \"sweat\" or cook until some of thier juices have run out and the mushrooms have \"tightened\". Add them to the stew along with thier juices.
8. Once you\'ve added the mushrooms, peel and boil the potatoes until they are very tender. Mash them with the butter and cream, season with salt and pepper and serve the creamy mashed potatoes with the hot stew.
a) Serve with a steamed green vegetable such as spring greens, beans, spinach or broccoli.
b) As a change from mashed potatoes, serve the stew with a freshly boiled chunky pasta like quills (penne) or spirals (fusilli) or with rice - serve it with some fresh wholegrain or granary bread to soak up the delicious juices.
c) Instead of mushrooms, try adding some sliced carrots and skinned thickly sliced (canned) plum tomatoes and walnut halves when you add, or would add, the bouquet garni.