Thursday, 4 September 2008

An Old Faithful - Revamped

I've made a beer stew for years. Called carbonnade of boeuf when I'm being posh, it's a family favourite. I usually serve it with mounds of buttery rice or creamy mashed potatoes, but last night I wanted a one pot meal. So I decided to add macaroni. It was a very rewarding experiment.

The 21st Century Housewife's
Beef and Macaroni Stew
Serves 4

2 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
500 grams braising steak, cubed
1/2 cup flour
5 carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks
2 beef stock cubes
boiling water
1 bottle (approximately 330 ml) lager beer (I used Coor's Light)
1 cup of dried macaroni

You need a large casserole that can be used both on the stove top and in the oven. I use a Le Creuset casserole that my Mother in Law gave me several years ago. It's one of my favourite pans.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the casserole on the stove top over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until translucent.

Place the flour in a bowl, and coat each piece of braising steak in the flour individually before adding it to the pan with the onions. This takes time, but it's worth it for the flavour. If there is any flour left over afterwards, sprinkle it over the top of the meat and onions. Stir the mixture over medium heat to brown the beef. You may need to add some more of the oil to keep the mixture from sticking.

Place the carrot chunks in the casserole and crumble the stock cubes over. Now pour in boiling water half way up the mixture in the pan. Pour in the beer. Stir gently. Cover the casserole and put it in the oven at 150 C (325 F).

Cook for at least an hour and a half, stirring once or twice. You want the meat to be really soft and tender. At this point, remove the casserole from the oven and place it on a heat proof surface. Give it a stir and top it up with some more boiling water - just to bring the liquid slightly over the meat and vegetables. Don't add too much, you can always add more later.
Now stir in the macaroni , cover and return the casserole to the oven. Check it again after about ten minutes. You want the macaroni to take up most of the liquid so that you have a sauce, but not soup! If the macaroni has done that but is still too al dente for your taste, add a little more water and cook some more.

The stew is done when the macaroni is al dente. I serve this is big bowls with crusty bread. It is amazing comfort food and totally delicious.

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