On cold winter days there is nothing more satisfying than knowing there is a huge pan of beef stew cooking away in the oven. It does not take too long to prepare and once in the oven it cooks itself. Times and measurements don’t need to be exact and favourite vegetables can be added to the pot. The best part is knowing that it will taste even better on the second day and you won’t need to lift a finger in the kitchen then.
Stewing steak is ideal for stews. Here in Greece the cut of beef which works best in a stew and adds the most flavour is known as ‘pondiki’, the Greek word for mouse. Buy as much or as little as you like depending on your desire for meat, but if you can make the butcher understand that small pieces means small pieces it saves you cutting up the meat at home. Turn your back for a minute on a Greek butcher and small pieces equals a piece of stewing beef cut into four.
A wonderful addition to this hearty beef stew is to add dumplings 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
This is my recipe for beef stew, but add whichever vegetables you like.
500 gms Stewing steak cut into small pieces.
3 large onions.
A handful of black peppercorns.
3 bay leaves.
1 beef stock cube.
2 tblsp flour
I prepare my stew by frying off the beef in olive oil in the wok. Whilst it browns peel and chop the onions and add to the meat. Peel and chop all the other vegetables and add the shallots and peppercorns to the wok. When the meat and onions are nicely cooked together add tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and the flour, stir together. Pour into a large pan and cover with the beef stock. Either add the vegetables now or at some point in the next hour if you think you might be back in the kitchen. Pop it into a slow oven to cook.
You should be able to tell from the smell when it’s ready. Incidentally this same dish is actually known as beef soup in Greece.