Monday, 21 July 2014

Scotch Beef and Root Vegetable One Pot Stew

Scotch shin of beef and root vegetables stew

Beef stew of one type or another is not only hugely popular in Scotland but in a great many countries around the world. The beef stew I recall when I think back to my childhood was similar to the filling for a traditional Scottish steak pie. Stewing beef and sausages were the main ingredients, with carrot and onion usually added as well as that old British family favourite instant gravy, Bisto. 

This recipe is different firstly in the sense that I am using shin of beef. This is a cut of beef which often knows an unfortunate reputation as being fatty and tough. It is indeed both if it's not cooked properly but when slowly stewed in the method described below, it is succulent and delicious. I've also used an increased number of vegetables and although I would normally use homemade beef stock, I have here kept it ultra-rustic and used simply water.

Shin of beef and root vegetables for stew

Ingredients (Serves Two)

3/4 pound (330g) approximately piece of shin of beef
1/2 medium white onion, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and black pepper
1 pint hot water (equals one and a quarter US pints)
12 baby Ayrshire new potatoes, washed but whole and unpeeled
1/2 Swede turnip (rutabaga) peeled and chopped to one inch (2.5cm) chunks
1 large carrot, washed, topped and tailed and chopped in to large chunks (do not peel or even scrape)
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish

Shin of beef and onion


When you lay the shin of beef on your chopping board, you will very often see that it is almost segmented due to the marbling. Try to chop it where possible through these natural divisions and you will know even greater final results. Regardless, you want to chop it to bite sized pieces. Be sure also not to discard any of the fat. It will render down during cooking, keep the meat moist and tender - and add huge amounts of extra flavour to the stew!

Shin of beef is diced, seasoned and ready to be browned

Boil your kettle and measure out a pint of water in to a heatproof jug.

Pour the vegetable oil in to your stew pot and add the beef. Season with the salt, pepper and thyme. Turn the heat on to medium and brown and seal the beef, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. This should take a couple of minutes.

Onion is added to browned beef

Add the onion to the beef and sautee for a further minute or so to soften.

Water is added to beef and onion

Pour the water in to the pot. Be careful of any potential sputtering/splashes. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer as gently as possible for two hours, stirring occasionally. It's unlikely to be necessary but you can add a little more boiling water if required.

Root vegetables are added to stewed beef and onion

The carrot, potatoes and Swede turnip should all be added to the stew at the same time.  Stir them through carefully to combine evenly.

Root vegetables are stirred through beef stew

Bring the stew back to a simmer, cover and cook for a further half hour. Be sure to taste for seasoning and adjust with extra salt and pepper.

Beef and root vegetables are spooned in to serving plate

Use a slotted spoon to divide the beef and vegetables between two serving plates. Pour over a little of the liquid stock and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Tucking in to Scotch beef and root vegetables stew

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