Beef slow-cooked in beer is no novelty. What makes this stew a new star is the fruit. Blackberries are easily manipulated. Dotted into a frangipane tart or boiled down with a little sugar, you’d believe their destiny was a sweet one. But they offer a savouriness too, especially when not eaten straight off the bush; their sweetness starts to ferment and sour. That confused, tart sweetness is brilliant in stews and sauces – it balances the other flavours. A note on the relish: don’t omit it.
- 1kg braising steak, diced
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- Sunflower or olive oil, for frying
- 440ml can Guinness
- 250ml beef stock
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 3 parsnips, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 200g blackberries
- 3 dried bay leaves
- Sea salt flakes and coarsely ground black pepper
For the relish:
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 200g blackberries, halved
- 5 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/140 degrees C fan/gas mark 3.
- Put the steak into a mixing bowl and add the flour and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss together — I use my hands — until the beef is evenly coated. Heat a generous glug of oil in a large ovenproof casserole or saucepan. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer gently), add the beef and fry, turning once, until coloured. You’ll need to do this in at least two batches; if you overcrowd the pan, the meat will braise rather than fry and you won’t achieve the colour or depth of flavour.
- Once all of the meat has been fried, return it to the pan with the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2-3 hours, until the meat is tender and flaking.
- To make the relish, simply combine the ingredients in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature until needed. Serve the stew with some of the relish over it.
Also from Comfort:
Reprinted with permission from Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul by John Whaite and published by Kyle Books, 2018