Italian Beef Stew

Put a large casserole on a medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then cook the stewing beef cubes and the streaky bacon for a good few minutes, until they are browned. Then remove the meat and toss in the peeled baby onions, the whole button mushrooms and the quartered or baby carrots, whichever you are using - add one ingredient at a time, seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper each time.

Put all the ingredients back into the casserole, along with the chopped rosemary and thyme and the crushed or grated garlic, whichever you're using. Cover with the red wine and the chicken stock or beef stock, whichever you're using, and simmer for one hour or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.

As the stew is cooking, make a roux. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat, add the plain flour and allow to cook for two minutes, stirring regularly, until it is a pale golden colour, then set aside.

When the stew is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables. Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and add one tablespoon of the roux. Whisk the mixture until the roux is broken up and the juices have thickened. Allow the liquid to boil. Replace the meat and vegetables, and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve with mashed potato, champ or colcannon.


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