Beef stew – slow cooked

Just before Easter the supermarkets had all kinds of meat on offer. I didn’t fancy lamb again (we had lamb steaks the other day) so I bought a beef roasting joint, weighing about 1 kilo. Since the weather wasn’t really spring like as it should be at this time of the year I thought, why not make a beef stew in my slow cooker? I tried out Parker’s Beef Stew, a recipe by Ina Garten.  I didn’t have any sun dried tomatoes, only sun blushed but they work equally nice (I assume of course!). I also used brown mushrooms instead of white and I also added some ketchup as I think this recipe can do with that little bit of vinegar and sugar! 
1 kilo good quality beef, cut into fairly large cubes
About 3/4 of a bottle of good red wine
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 punnet of brown mushrooms, halved
1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
about half a litre of beef or vegetable stock
1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
2 twigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped sun blushed or dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of Ketchup
1 small package of frozen peas
Put the beef in a bowl with the smashed garlic cloves and bay leaves and pour the red wine over so that the meat is covered. Marinate in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight).
Combine some flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon onto some paper towel and pat dry. Take the bay leaves and garlic out of the marinade and put them into the slow cooker. Save the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef into the slow cooker and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you’ll need more oil.) Place all the beef into the slow cooker.
Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Put all of the vegetables to the beef in the slow cooker. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables, set the slow cooker to low (for all day) or high (for half a day), cover the pot and you’re done!
About ten minutes before you want to eat stir in the frozen peas. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce on your plate!
Ina Garten’s recipe is done in an oven pot. So if you don’t have a slow cooker, then preheat the oven to 160° Celsius. Once you’ve put everything into your pot simmer the stew over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to cook it for good 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower your oven heat.
We had this for the second time last night and I served green beans and noodles with it. As with every stew you heat up it always tastes better the next day!

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