Meat and potatoes with a good bottle of red. Served with crusty French baguettes to mop up the luscious red wine sauce and that’s Sunday lunch, sorted. What better way to celebrate Father’s day this weekend than with a hearty red wine beef stew? Slow braised until the meat is spoon-tender and the sauce thickened. Topped with gruyere and potato gratin, this beef hot-pot is for all meat loving South Africans, particularly the dads!
There’s something special about weekend food that sets it apart from hurried midweek suppers. A low and slow beef hot-pot that steadily makes its way to the finish line, with meltingly tender meat and a deeply flavoursome sauce. Allowing the oven to do all the work is clever cooking and will free you up for a couple of leisurely hours.
At a recent lunch, the conversation turned towards food, more specifically our favourite types of food. For the women, vegetable-rich dishes were top of the list, while for the men, two words dominated – meat and potatoes. This one’s for the men, although my teenage girls will give any man a run for their money when this beef stew is on the table.
As with most good stews and curries, this one benefits from being made the day before as the flavours improve with an overnight rest. I’ve topped the potatoes with handfuls of gruyere cheese. If you prefer, a sheet of golden puff pastry is the good alternative to the potato topping. Either way, this hearty stew will be most welcome at the table. For vegetable sides, roast butternut is always a good option or for a thoroughly local treat, my sweet potatoes with honey and orange sauce are completely delicious. So, shuffle the table into a warm and sunny spot for a memorable, family feast.
Red wine beef stew with potato gratin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5kg beef shin, bone-in
1 large brown onion, diced
2 stems celery, diced
2 carrots, chopped, fine dice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 stem rosemary, de-stalked and finely chopped
250ml red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400g tin whole tomatoes, mulched
1/2 teaspoon sugar
peel of half and orange, thinly sliced into shavings (no pith)
750ml weak beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste
600g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 – 3mm thick rounds
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons gruyere cheese, finely grated
2 stems thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180º C. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large based, oven-proof or cast iron pot. Season the beef with salt and black pepper. Brown the meat on both sides until well coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside. You will have to do the browning in batches. Avoid overcrowding the pan as the meat will start to stew as opposed to browning.
Add a drop more oil to the pan and sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for several minutes before adding the garlic, rosemary and chilli flakes. Cook for 2 more minutes. Place the beef shin back into the pot with the vegetables, together with the meat resting juices. Deglaze the pot with the red wine and reduce down by a third. Stir through the tomato paste, mulched tomatoes, sugar, orange peel and beef stock. Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover with the lid and cook in the preheated oven for 3 hours until the meat is spoon tender.
Allow to rest for about half and hour before skimming off any excess fat. Remove the bones, trying to keep the larger meat pieces intact. Spoon the meat and the thickened vegetable sauce into an oven-proof casserole dish or pan. Parboil the potatoes in salted water. Drain thoroughly. Drizzle the potatoes with the melted butter and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the potatoes over the meat filling, overlapping slightly. Scatter over the thyme and bake in a 200º C oven for 45 minutes. Scatter over the gruyere cheese and grill for several minutes until the top is bubbling and the potatoes are golden. Serve with steamed green vegetables.