Old fashioned beef stew and carrots is an old English dish that has really stood the test of time. Surprisingly tasty made from quite simple ingredients. Comfort food at its best.
I cook mine in a pressure cooker which saves time and fuel but it can also be cooked on the hob or in the oven
Whenever the weather is a bit chilly, to me means it's a perfect time to cook a good old fashioned beef stew. Or any other type of stew for that matter.
Ok, I know it's basic, but sometimes simple does just nicely. To my mind, this is no fuss, great home cooked food.
I'm pretty sure my mum had a pressure cooker, as I seem to remember seeing one in the cupboard but I don't remember her using it much.
Stews like this would just bubble away on the stove for hours or before my dad had a fancy new electric oven, they would be cooked in the old gas oven in the bakery. I grew up in a bakery and the old gas ovens were lit at night ready for baking in the morning, and they seldom got completely cold.
Maybe that's why I like stews so much, they are a taste of my childhood.
Ingredients and Alternatives
Oil – I like to use extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed rapeseed oil because they are less refined than many cooking oils and in the case of the reduced food miles for me here in the UK. Generic Vegetable oil (which is usually refined rapeseed oil known as Canola oil in the US ) and Sunflower oil are also suitable.
Onions – I use large onions because I like the mild flavour and a lot of onion
Carrots – cut into large chunks
Cubed Beef – braising, chuck or stewing steak are good economical cuts for this dish. You can buy ready diced for convenience.
Plain flour (US = all purpose flour) to thicken the gravy slightly
Freshly ground black pepper
Red Wine Vinegar – to deglaze the pan cider or white wine vinegar could also be used.
Beef stock cube plus water or use ready made beef stock
Dried thyme - oregano or mixed herbs also work well in this casserole.
Scroll down for quantities and full printable recipe at the bottom of this post.
The pros of using a pressure cooker
Cooking this casserole in a pressure cooker means you don't have to wait hours to tuck in either. It saves fuel and allows you to make the cheaper, tougher cuts of meat super tender in no time at all. Which all adds up to a very economical meal.
And I'm also not always organised enough to get the dinner on to cook hours in advance. Which is exactly why I like using a pressure cooker.
In fact, I actually have two pressure cookers. One that you use on the hob plus an Electric Instant Pot (which also has other functions including being a slow cooker). And I often use both at the same time perhaps to cook some brown rice to go with a chilli cooked in the other. See how to cook brown rice in pressure cooker here. Or in the winter maybe one will be cooking a steamed pudding or rice pudding while the other cooks the main.
Prepare your dish, then in what seems like a very short time later the meat is cooked and tender. If I'm honest, the flavours are probably better in a slower cooked stew as they have more of a chance to meld together, but when time is short a slight loss of flavour can be accepted. That said there is more than enough flavour for a midweek meal even in a dish as simple as this.
Hints, Tips and Variations
But, if you don't have a pressure cooker, don't worry. You can cook it on the hob or in the oven as well, it will just take longer and you can still take advantage of the cheaper cuts.
I like the flavour of root veg that has cooked to almost mushiness in a stew (unlike overly boiled veg which is just watery). So, I have kept this traditional and cooked the carrots the full time. If you prefer, you could cook the meat first, add the carrots to the pot and cook again either at high pressure for 5 minutes or without returning to pressure by simmering the stew for about 15- 25 minutes. To me, that's a bit of a faff though.
Incidentally, you can use other root vegetables such as swede, waxy potatoes, turnips or parsnip or any combination of them instead. As with all basic recipes, it's there to be tweaked!
What to serve with the stew
When it comes to stews and casseroles to me it has to be mashed potatoes. You can serve other vegetables with it if you like a green vegetable of some kind is always a good choice. I like broccoli cabbage or green beans with mine.
If you are organised enough to prepare and cook ahead. Cool and keep chilled ready to reheat when required and the flavour is even better. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and the freezer for up to 4 months.
Step by Step
Step 1 Cook the onions until softened and beginning to colour transfer to the pressure cooker along with the carrots.
Step 2 Toss the meat in seasoned flour then brown the meat in batches before adding to the pressure cooker.
Step 3 Deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar pour over the meat.
Step 4 Add the water
Step 5 Crumble in the stock cube. Give the ingredients a good stir until well mixed.
Step 6 Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes then slowly release pressure before serving.
Beef Stew and Carrots
- Pressure cooker (optional)
- frying pan
- measuring jug
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 onions sliced
- 500 g carrots cut into large chunks
- 1 kg braising or stewing steak cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 500 ml water
- 1 beef stock cube
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- mashed potatoes to serve
- Heat a little of the oil in a frying pan and fry 2 sliced onions over a medium heat until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from the pan and place in the pressure cooker along with 500g (1lb2oz) carrots.
- Toss 1 kg(2¼lb) cubed beef in 2 tablespoons flour, seasoned with a little black pepper until coated in the flour. Brown the meat in batches adding a little more oil as necessary. As each batch is browned, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the carrots and onions.
- When all the meat has been browned, Add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar to the pan with a little of the 500ml (18floz) water , give it a good stir, scraping up any caramelised meat juices from the base of the pan This is know as deglazing the pan.
- Pour over the meat and add the remaining water. Crumble in 1 beef stock cube and add a teaspoon of dried thyme. Give it a good stir then close the lid and bring up to high pressure. Cook for 30 minutes, then release the pressure slowly.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Serve with mashed potatoes to mop up the juices.