With the contagious cheer of the festive season behind us and a long few months of wintry weather ahead, it's easy to let January leave us feeling a bit deflated. While it may start with a bang, good intentions and high hopes of a new, healthier way of life, it is often seen as a month of post-Christmas tightened belts and winter blues.
With a combination of that 'back to school' feeling and relentless bad weather, January calls for comfort and cosy warmth. Slow-cooked beef and hearty vegetables in a rich, herbed gravy is just the thing to have bubbling away on the hob on a lazy Sunday afternoon as the rain drums against the window and you can't bear to part with the book and slippers you found in your stocking on Christmas morning.
This recipe doesn't call for anything remarkable - a pinch of herbs you're bound to already have in your kitchen cupboards, the stewing steak that's been lurking in the back of your freezer 'just in case', a handful of carrots, shallots and a glug of wine left over from your festive feast - just dig out your biggest casserole dish and leave it on the stove until your house is filled with the aroma of wholesome, home cooked goodness. This recipe is affordable, straightforward and has a depth that is bound to warm your cockles and brighten even the dullest of days.
So, grab a hunk of crusty bread or dish up a dollop of creamy mash and curl up on the sofa - I'm sure that New Year's resolution to be more active can wait one more day!
500g stewing steak, diced into 2cm chunks
8 shallots, peeled and left whole
3 carrots, sliced lengthways and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
2 tablespoons flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
250ml red wine
250ml beef stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (2 teaspoons if using dried thyme)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Using kitchen roll, pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.
- In a heavy bottomed casserole or pan, melt the butter until foaming. Add the meat in batches (being careful not to overcrowd the pan) and cook until nicely browned on each side, adding more fat if necessary.
- Transfer meat to a bowl and put to one side. Add the shallots, carrots and bay leaf to the pan and sauté until slightly soft.
- Return beef to the pan and add the flour - stir and cook for about one minute before adding the red wine and stock. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan properly to deglaze it.
- Add the thyme, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and stir until thoroughly combined.
Cover the pan and turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Leave to cook for 3-4 hours or until the vegetables and meat are tender.
Serve hot and enjoy!