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Simple Beef Stew

Cheapskate Meals 153
Beef Stew

The Scenario:

It is now as cold as balls and snowing everywhere that I look so it is time to whip out the laziest of all recipes; something so simple that even the old peasants of medieval Europe could cope with it despite living in houses made mostly out of mud, crap and despair, a stew. You have probably heard of stews and casseroles and thought that they sounded like too much work but let me tell you something, stews are both the manliest and most lazy of all foodstuffs. To make a stew, you throw stuff, mainly big hunks of meat, in a pot and then you make that pot hot and ignore it for as long as possible. There really isn’t anything simpler.

What You Need:

A stovetop

A big pot

A big spoon

A knife and chopping board

An ID that says you are old enough to buy beer

Ingredients To Feed Four People:

A big tin or bottle of the absolute cheapest beer that you can lay hands on; beer, stout or ale, not “lager.”

Technically you can use water and trickery in place of the beer but the flavour will never be as good.

An onion

Two carrots

A drop of oil or butter

Beef stock cubes or concentrate

About 18 ounces of nice cheap beef, preferably chuck, the cheapest of the cheap.

Optional extras:

Pretty much any vegetable you can think of can go in a stew as long as you cook it for long enough.

Herbs and spices can make a plain stew into something much more fancy, I prefer a little pinch of marjoram, oregano and thyme but you can mix and match nearly anything and still have it come out okay.

Crusty bread and butter on the side, to wipe your bowl clean.

How To Do It:

1. Chop up all your meat until it is about the same size. Chop up your vegetables roughly but keep them separated out into their own piles.

2. Blast that pot at full heat, drip in your oil and when it starts smoking, throw in your beef.

3. Move that beef around so it doesn’t stick, we aren’t trying to cook it, just seal the outside of it so all the flavour can’t escape. Once one side is brown throw in your onion and move that around too.

4. When the beef is brown throw in your carrots and pour in your beer. Then have one yourself. You’ve earned it. The beer. Not the carrot.

5. Add your beef stock and then realise that you have just put in your last ingredient, now comes the pure laziness.

6. Leave it on the heat at about half power. Make sure all the ingredients are under the level of the liquid to start with.

7. Check in every fifteen minutes or so. This way you are still “cooking” and can’t be asked to do anything else around the house. Give it a stir and nod at it approvingly. If it starts to hubble and bubble, turn the heat down a little bit and give it an extra stir.

8. You don’t want to let it dry out, but you want to cook it for as long as possible, I usually give mine the full hour. You can do it quicker but the meat won’t be as tender, anything less than half an hour probably won’t cook your carrots. If you’ve gone nuts and added more vegetables then it might take a little longer.

9. Skewer a bit of the meat and try it. If you make an embarrassing noise as it falls apart in your mouth then it is done.

We’ve got a few months of cold weather still coming which should give you plenty of time to experiment with different beers and herbs to make your very own signature stew. That will impress the hell out of everybody and convince your parents that you are actually capable of feeding yourself.

G D Penman writes books. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he likes to watch cartoons, play video games, read more books than are entirely feasible and continues on his quest to eat the flesh of every living species. He has worked in just about every job you can have in a restaurant and now he is here to yell at you for using a microwave when there is a perfectly good oven right there.

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