Monday, November 13, 2017

Hearty Beef Stew

When I found out that my neighbour will be between maids and need to feed her kids lunch as she’s a working mum, I volunteered my services since I’m home most days and need to make lunch for myself anyway. But while my lunches are relatively simple, I had to crack my head thinking up meals that would be nutritious and more importantly, appealing to teenagers.

It’s been awhile since I had to shovel food into teenagers. Since attaining adulthood, my son, B’s tastes have evolved somewhat although he will never say no to a heaping bowl of pasta. I only have to provide these kids’ lunches for five days, and as they’ll be having Chinese food with rice for their dinners, I decided to cook one pot meals which I can then hand over to the kids come lunchtime.

One fallback meal that I used to cook for B is beef stew. It’s not exactly what’s ideal for hot days here in the tropics, but we’ve had lots of rain and cool weather, and the last thing I want to eat is raw salad. I’d rather tuck into a bowl of steaming hot soup. Or stew.

It’s been so long since I cooked stew that I had to look up recipes for it. Apart from beef, I like lots of vegetables in the stew, so picked up carrots, celery, onions and potatoes. Reading the recipes online, I took what I liked and basically winged the rest of it. It’s really simple and, with the addition of vegetables, can be stretched to a hearty meal for the whole family.

It can be served with mashed potatoes or even rice. But I decided to give the kids some garlic bread as well. In case they don’t like the stew ( although their mother assured me they’ll eat anything!), they can load up on the bread.

Here’s my version of an all-time favourite:

Hearty Beef Stew
1 kg beef, (any cut will do, although the tougher cuts will give more flavor) cut into 1 inch cubes
Vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 400g can of peeled or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Beef stock
1 bay leaf or a pinch of mixed herbs
A splash of worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat some oil in a heavy deep saucepan or pot.
Dredge the beef cubes with some flour and brown them off in the heated oil. Don’t load up the pan so the beef cubes all get a chance to be browned off evenly.
Remove beef and add the vegetables except potatoes. After about 5 minutes, add the minced garlic.
Add back the beef, together with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and enough stock to cover everything in the pot.
Add the potatoes, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. A dash of red wine is optional.
Cover the pot and simmer on the stove till the beef and vegetables are soft.
The stew will taste even better after a couple of days!