It's been a while since I posted a recipe, but with winter well set in down here, I thought it'd be the perfect time to share my favourite stew recipe. It's whole, warm, and is a definite comfort food. In fact, before I made it into a safe food, it was a huge fear food. But, with a few adjustments over time, I now can't go without having a batch stashed in the freezer.
The great thing about stew is how versatile it is. I'm not a big meat eater, so you might prefer a higher ratio of meat - or different proportions of veggies, or different veggies altogether. My mum and brother both eat it regularly, but with more meat, and a traditional roux base instead of cheating with gravy flour/semolina. The beauty is in it's simplicity.
I'll try to keep this concise, but I want to explain a little about what changes made it safe; apart from customizing the ratios of meat:vege.
I actually don't brown the meat any more, which means I eliminate the need for oil, but it turns out beautifully tender anyway. These days, I just put the pan on the scales next to the chopping board and put it all in together, except for the flour, which only comes in toward the end. Everything lands in a 16-cup boiler, and pretty much takes care of itself.
I've mentioned this 'gravy flour' at least once before, namely in this post, which I will update later. Basically, it's a very fine flour that allows you to thicken sauces without using butter or oils in a roux - another key ingredient for an oil-free stew.
But I've recently learnt more about this wonderful thing. A few weeks ago, after I could no longer find gravy flour in stores, I had a closer read of the last container, and realised it's nothing more than semolina (a form of wheat flour, like you use to make pasta or cous cous), which I already had a big bag of in the cupboard! On inspection, the grains are ever so slightly larger than the bought gravy flour, but I've since filled a proper shaker with semolina and it works just the same.
When it comes to safe hot meals, I do like to cook in bulk, and so this recipe makes about 16 cups. I keep my freezer drawer stuffed with portions of homemade stew, soups, mashed potato, etc.; anything that can freeze and reheat.
My dietician actually asked about how I weigh cooked foods, family dinners and the like, just before she went on holiday, and I realised I don't know if I've ever written about it here.
Not only the ingredients, but all of my pots and pans are weighed. I know the most-used off by heart. Once it's finished cooking, I can pop the pan on the scales, subtract the weight of the pan alone, and have a result accurate enough to calm my head.
It's really a very simple recipe, so I won't complicate it here. I use rump steak, which I think you Americans would call sirloin, but any cut will do.
Beef & Vegetable Stew
Makes 16 cups (4,000g)
-- 750g beef, trimmed and diced
-- 6 large potatoes (1kg), diced
-- 5 large carrots (350g), sliced
-- 2 large onions (250g), diced
-- 800g can diced tomatoes
-- 4 cups beef stock
-- 55g gravy flour (or semolina)
-- Thyme and oregano (or your preferred choice of herbs)
-- Salt and pepper to taste
|I started with 1.4kg before I ruthlessly trimmed it of fat|
First, get everything sliced and diced.
I like to puree the onions and tomatoes with an immersion blender. I think it adds a lot of flavour to the sauce, but leaving them diced is fine too.
Like I said above, everything except the flour all goes in to the pan straight away - the meat, veggies, stock, seasonings...
Top up with water to ensure everything's covered.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for an hour, or until the beef and vegetables are cooked, adding more water as needed.
(Note: Both meat and vegetables will become more tender as it's cooled and re-heated)
Once cooked, lightly sprinkle some gravy flour/semolina over the stew in batches, stirring well each time.
Sprinkle Lightly and Stir Well - the #1 rule of gravy flour.
You can generally guess this by eye, although the scales are handy. Just keep in mind it will thicken up more as it cools.
Leave on heat for at least 10 minutes to allow flour to cook, but not so long that it sticks and burns in its oil-less glory.
And because I just had to...
Nutritional info, courtesy of MFP.
(per cup / 250g)
(calculated using weights listed in Ingredients, to make 16 cups)
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe if any of you try it.
I'll write a proper update soon. Right now my head needs a break.