CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Latest Column from Tom Parker Bowles

PUBLISHED: 16:36 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:04 21 February 2013

Latest Column from Tom Parker Bowles

Latest Column from Tom Parker Bowles

This month, Tom shares his tasty recipe for Mexican Beef Stew...

A few years back, in the dark days of British gastronomy, stew was a dirty word. Here was a dish that seemed cheap and dreary, a bowl of mean necessity rather than delectable sophistication. So if chefs wanted to flog their slow-cooked mass of beef or lamb, theyd name it casserole. Hidden behind this veneer of Gallic lan, the humble one pot classic suddenly became the height of European chic.


But however you describe this ancient dish braise, pot roast, hotpot or ragout theres no doubting its appeal. Tough cuts of meat the ones that have actually done some work on a beast are slow cooked in liquid until all that collagen breaks down. The result is sweet, silken and succulent strands of meat that can be cut with a spoon.


I once asked Marco Pierre White about the technical difference between a stew, braise and casserole. He paused for a second and I moved closer, so as to capture every last pearl of wisdom issuing forth. Then he smiled and said, No bloody difference at all.


Stew is a forgiving dish too, suitable for even the most cack-handed amateur. As it uses the less venerated cuts, from shin of beef and oxtail to breast of lamb and shoulder of pork, stew is a cheap dish, but should never be a mean one. And any carnivorous culture will have its own version. Ive eaten Cochinia pibil in Mexico, where great chunks of pork are marinated in orange juice and annatto (a vivid red paste made form the seeds of the achiote tree). Ive devoured offal stuffed kare kare in the Philippines, paprika charged Hungarian goulash, Japanese chankonabe and more versions of pot au feus in France that I can remember. Back home, there are endless regional variations; the crisp topped beauty of a proper Lancashire hotpot; Lobscouse, or Scouse, a classic Liverpudlian stew with roots in the far north of Europe. And cawl, the Welsh national dish that is as delicate and elegant a concoction as youll ever taste, along with the steadfastly robust steak and ale stew, best served atop a great mound of buttery mashed potato.

There are few set rules when it comes to stew. I like to brown my meat first. Not because it seals in the juices (it doesnt), rather it gives another layer of caramelised flavour to the finished dish. Use a searing hot pan and brown (not grey) the meat in small batches so they dont overcrowd the pan. A good cast iron casserole is essential, As to the actual liquid, you can use anything from wine and beer to orange juice, beef stock and passatta. Many need nothing apart from water. The slow cooked meat infuses the liquid and creates it own stock. And thats the joy. From the simplest ingredients comes edible joy, blissfully tender pieces of meat, lolling in the richest of sauces. Its the very definition of winter comfort.

Mexican Beef Stew

This has chipotle at its heart, dried and smoked jalapenos. They have a wonderful rich depth and really make the stew. They can be bought online from The Cool Chile Co. Its not exactly authentically Mexican, but very easy to make. Serves 4


Ingredients


Olive oil, a fat glug
2 lbs braising steak or shin, cut into inch cubed chunks
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
700g jar of passata
Big pinch Mexican oregano
4-8 chopped chipotles, soaked for about an hour first in warm water.
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
Big pinch of sea salt


To serve
Fresh tortillas
Big bunch coriander, chopped
Pot of sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese, a handful


1. Brown meat, in batches. Then add onions and garlic and soften.


2. Add passata, vinegar, salt, chillies, garlic, bay leaves and oregano


3. Cook for 2 hours 20, covered, in oven at 150c.

4. Serve with fresh tortillas, sours cream, coriander and grated cheese.

0 comments

More from Food & Drink

13:09

Veganism is the latest food trend to hit the Cotswolds but it’s something we can all enjoy a bite of

Read more

Alleviate the stress of hectic Christmas preparation and endless shopping trips with a festive afternoon tea in one of these gorgeous Cotswold settings

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

Find a fabulous gift for everyone with Whatley Manor’s monetary vouchers.

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The hotel in Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire is offering free lunch or afternoon tea for the first ten that book for December 19

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

A perfect gift where rest and relaxation is required.

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

Applications are now open for a new competition that will give people from Gloucestershire the chance to see their food and drink products or ideas appear on supermarket shelves across the county

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dark and chilly winter evenings are perfect for huddling in the corner of a country pub with friends, catching up over beer and supper. The Cotswolds have cosy pubs aplenty – here are 12 of our favourite places to go...

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

The most famous Bangladeshi restaurant is celebrating an anniversary

Read more
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sunday 9th December 2018

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Amid the season of turkey and tinsel Whatley Manor are throwing in a festive curveball, an evening of lobster, fizz & fries!

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you’re after something for an adults’ stocking filler, a little something while you slave over the turkey dinner or a tipple to enjoy with your festive party guests, we pick 9 drinks from the Cotswolds you need to try this Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If we can continue to show our support for talented and industrious jam-makers like these, we might just pull our favourite preserve out of the sticky situation it’s supposed to be in!

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search