If you’re looking for a comforting winter warmer, you definitely need to try my Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew. Melt in your mouth beef in a thick and rich gravy with deliciously sweet carrots – yum.
This time of year really does lend itself to slow cooked dishes. When the weather is cold and miserable I like a lot of people want warm and comforting food. And surely it’s not just me that feels a bit lazy when the weather is a bit rubbish? That’s another reason why slow cooked meals are so great, once you have spent a few minutes assembling them at the start, you can then pretty much just forget about them.
Beef is a great meat for long slow cooking because it gets deliciously tender. I also find gravy that is deeply flavoured to be one of the most comforting things to eat. Slow cooking is a relaxed way of letting the flavours develop over time where they can really intensify. I had to stop myself spooning all of this gravy straight from the slow cooker it was that tasty.
You can cook this on high for 5-6 hours, but if you have the time, I would recommend letting it cook on low. This will make the beef even tastier. I put this on just before I went to bed and got up to the most amazing smell the next morning. If you want to eat it that day, you can just reheat it later. Alternatively you can freeze it for a really quick meal another day.
My Mum used to make delicious gravy for us growing up and because she knew we all loved it so much she made sure there was plenty. At the end of the meal, if your potato hadn’t soaked up all of the gravy, we used to get a slice of white bread and use that to soak up the last of the yummy gravy. It was so good!
As this is cooking for such a long time, I like to leave the carrots quite chunky because I want them to keep their shape. You can cut them smaller if you like but they may disintegrate slightly. I think mushrooms would make a great addition to this stew but as with the carrots I would leave them quite chunky or add them half way through the cooking time.
You can use whichever ale you like in this recipe. I used a dark ale that said it worked well with red meat, but I think any medium to dark ale would be great. You could also use Guinness which would be really tasty. If you do not want to use ale in this recipe, you could just add more beef stock. I would also consider adding a tablespoon of Bovril. This would help add a depth and richness to the gravy – I love the stuff!
If you don’t have a slow cooker but want to give this stew a go do not panic – you can absolutely cook this in the oven! I haven’t tried it, but if I was, I would cook it for around 5-6 hours at 120ºC with a lid on and then for the last 30 minutes to an hour take the lid off. I would also add around 250ml more stock which would help ensure it doesn’t dry out. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend leaving this overnight, as you would need to check it every few hours and give it a stir.
I like to eat this Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew with a baked potato or mashed potato. Or as I mentioned before, some bread is a great alternative to mop up all of that delicious gravy!
Serves 4 using a 3.5L slow cooker
700g braising steak
200g smoked bacon lardons
30g plain flour mixed with 1 tsp sea salt & ¼ tsp black pepper
550g carrots, sliced
1 stick of celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 sprigs of rosemary
½ tbsp thyme leaves
2 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
500ml dark ale
1 beef stock pot
1 tsp sunflower oil
- Add the bacon lardons to your slow cooker if you can use it directly on the hob, alternatively add them to a pan. Cook them until crisp and set aside
- Mix the flour together with the salt and pepper. Depending on how much oil the bacon left, add a little more if needed
- Coat the beef lightly in the flour and then brown it in the slow cooker/pan in batches
- Once all of the beef has been browned, add it back to the slow cooker
- Add the bacon and the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine
- Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Remove the rosemary sprigs and serve
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