Friday, 18 January 2013

Beef braised with shallots and bay leaves

For me, the smell of a beef casserole simmering away with wine and garlic is one of the nicest cooking smells in the kitchen. Returning from a wintery walk and opening the door to the wonderful aroma made my mouth water. I cooked the casserole in the slow cooker all day, as opposed to cooking it in the oven, just to ensure that the meat was nice and tender. It was as good as it smelt, melted in the mouth and was a perfect meal for such a cold snowy evening. 

Serves 6
1.5kg of braising beef, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp of plain flour, seasoned
1 large onion, chopped
18 peel shallots (I used the large banana shallots, and only had 5 of them)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
a large pinch of sugar
5 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme (I just used dried thyme)
300ml of red wine
400ml of beef stock
12-18 small floury potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a knife
I added a couple of cloves of garlic

Heat the oven to 160ºC. Toss the meat with the flour. Put some oil in a large casserole dish over a high heat. Add the meat in batches and brown it thoroughly, removing each batch as it is done. Add a little more oil if you need to then brown the onions, scoop out and brown the shallots all over. Put the meat and onions back in the pan with the shallots and add the carrots, sugar, bay and thyme. Add the wine and stock and bring to a simmer. Season well. Put a lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours put the potatoes on a baking sheet above the casserole and take the lid off the casserole. Cook for another 40 mins then turn the oven up to 220ºC and cook for 15 mins until the sauce thickens a little and the potatoes crisp up.
Cut a cross in the top of each potato and stick some butter in each. Season with black pepper and serve 2 - 3 potatoes per person with the stew. 

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