Beef – stewing
Stewing steak is the cheapest type and ideal for winter casseroles; brown it first to keep it tender; stewing steak absorbs other flavours such as wine and spices really well.
It is the forequarter meat on an animal that’s usually the most suitable for stewing and braising – everything from the waist up.
Without becoming too technical, it is the front portion that initiates the movements of the animal and therefore works harder than the back portion. This means there is more muscle there, and more of something called connective tissue, a gelatinous substance which builds up as the animal matures. Conveniently, there is also rather more fat marbling the forequarter meat, so that during the longer, slower cooking that’s needed for these cuts, there is a gradual rendering-down of the connective tissue (which provides flavour and body to the sauce), and at the same time an internal basting of the meat fibres by the marbling of fat.
This does a splendid job of keeping the meat succulent, and (because there’s a good deal of flavour in the fat itself) explains why forequarter meat develops flavour as it cooks.Here is a list of the cuts that are suitable for stewing (and braising). These cuts are always from the same part of the animal’s anatomy but, confusingly, the way they’re cut varies from region to region.
Stewing beef can come from the neck and cod. These are accorded some undignified titles such as sticking, or in Scotland gullet, or in the North vein or sloat!!
Also suitable for stewing is thin flan which is sometimes just called flank. Leg and shin beef also stew beautifully given enough time.
These are delicious little minced sausages threaded on to skewers.
No fiddly browning of the meat here: just throw it all into a casserole and three hours later you'll be swooning at the wonderful aromas that escape from this classic stew.
This inexpensive dish is a version of the famous Greek dolmades or stuffed vine leaves, given an English twist with minced beef but also true to the Mediterranean with the inclusion of cinnamon, marjoram and rice.
A classic boeuf bourguignon, but made with cider instead of red wine. Although this is a frugal recipe, it's so good you could easily serve it when entertaining.
A more English take on ossobuco (using beef instead of veal) this sumptuous recipe also includes a very useful recipe for cheat's risotto Milanese, allowing you to rustle up a quick accompaniment to this slow-cooked casserole.
Serves 2 (so double it for 4)
When the temperature plummets it's time to tuck into a robust stew filled with flavours of the Mediterranean.
Using cheaper beef rather than fillet steak makes this a much more economical dish - yet it doesn't suffer anything in the process and is still the most fantastic recipe.
There's something luxurious about this recipe, which features braised steak, mushrooms and Madeira. Serve it to friends or use beer or cider for a family feast.
Nothing beats the anticipation of eating a traditional, slow-cooked stew on a winter's day: sticky sauce, flavourful vegetables and meat so tender it's falling apart, with the added bonus of dumplings!
An unusual, colourful stew that is perfect for entertaining - just add plain rice to serve. Spices, squash, sweetcorn and red pepper provide the Latin American elements, giving the dish masses of visual appeal and great flavour.