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  • Writer's pictureLydia Gerratt

Beef stew with carrots, onions and new potatoes

Beef stew with carrots, onions and new potatoes

I don’t know why, but it has taken me ages to work out how to make a beef stew that tastes exactly how you imagine a beef stew should taste. I started off with far too many ingredients and then quickly realised you don’t need most of them.

As always, it comes down to just a few ingredients. They have to be the RIGHT ingredients and as luck would have it, they are not expensive; beef, stock, carrots, onions and potatoes.

The beef has to be chuck steak or if you can get hold of it, feather steak – both are cheap cuts of beef. All the supermarkets sell chuck steak (they usually call it braising or stewing steak), but without putting too fine a point on it, the chuck steak they sell is rubbish for making a stew. Their beef is too lean and will always taste insipid and be horribly tough, even after cooking for 2 hours. I buy chuck steak from The Ginger Pig (a butcher near where I live in London) as you can actually see lots of lovely white fat running through the meat. The more fat, the better as the flavour is in the fat.

Or I buy feather steak from the meat counter at Waitrose. This is always a game of roulette as sometimes they have it and a lot of the time they don’t. When I do see some, I buy loads and freeze it. I prefer using feather steak as there is a serious amount of fat running through this thick steak, it stews up so beautifully soft that it literally melts in your mouth and it’s slightly cheaper than chuck.

The stock has to be Waitrose Cooks Ingredients beef stock because I developed it for them when I was their Ingredients Food Buyer a few years ago! This stock is made in the proper way; huge beef bones are roasted (for more flavour) and then gently simmered in water for 12 hours with vegetables. No salt has been added to the stock, so you’ll find that you need to season the beef stew quite heavily while it's cooking or alternatively, at the end to get the flavour right.

Beef stock

Onions, carrots and potatoes are all in season and British (this is always good as they will taste better as they didn’t have far to travel). I like to use new potatoes as they don’t dissolve to a mush in the stew after 2 hours of cooking, but will still squish nicely when you press a fork into them.

Miraculous ingredients: chuck or feather steak (grass fed and/or organic), red wine, Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients beef stock

Beef stew with carrots, onions and new potatoes

Ingredients 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 2 medium brown onions, halved and finely sliced 600g chuck steak or feather steak, cut into 4cm pieces 100ml red wine 6 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces (half or thirds) 500g small new potatoes 2 tablespoon of plain flour 500ml beef stock (Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients beef stock is the best) 200ml water Coarse sea salt and black pepper to season


Place a dry medium size sauce pan (with a lid) on a low heat to warm up while you prepare the ingredients.

Add the olive oil to the sauce pan turn the heat to high and brown the pieces of beef. You might need to do this in 2 batches so you don’t over crowd the pan, cause the temperature to drop and the meat ‘boils’ rather than browns.

Season the beef pieces with salt and pepper.

Add all the wine and continue to cook until it has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Add the onions to the beef and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes. You want the onions to be soft and slightly caramelised (going brown!). Add the flour and stir thoroughly to mix all the flour into the fat. Add all the beef stock plus 200ml of water, the peeled and halved carrots and the whole baby new potatoes.

Bring the stew to a simmer, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting, balance the lid on top so it’s a little bit open and cook very gently for 2 hours. Check the stew and give it a stir every 30 minutes. If it gets too dry and sticky add more water.

The liquid will reduce dramatically and thicken slightly after 2 hours. The stew is ready when the beef is so tender it can be cut with a fork and both the carrots and potatoes squish to a mush when pressed.

Preparation time 20 minutes, cooking 2.5 hours, 3 adult portions, 2 child portions.

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