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Everybody’s mother is a good cook.

Mine was no exception. If only I could open her recipe box more often, my blog would be richer and I’d have less cookbooks around the house. Well, truth is, it hurts so much to open the box and see her writing… I miss her sorely.

Tonight’s recipe was one of her favourite for winter nights, as it is very comforting. Everyone thinks beef stew is easy as all you’re supposed to do is throw all ingredients in the pan and… stew. Incorrect. You first brown the meat; then you brown the potatoes, then the veggies and THEN add everything back to the pan and… stew.

  • 1 pound (450gr) stew beef
  • 2 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter (if needed)
  • 4 or five starchy potatoes (depending on size), diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups (400 gr) canned tomatoes; see equivalents here
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 or more bay leaves (depending on size)
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • circa 3 cups water

In a dutch-oven add the oil and brown the meat (do this in batches if the pan is not large enough to accommodate the meat as you want to brown it not to braise it). Set aside. In the same pan, using the fat remaining and topping with butter only if needed, brown the diced potatoes. Remove and set aside.

Add the leek to the pan and saute it adding 1/2 cup water (half way through) scraping all brown bits from the pan; add the sliced carrots and the garlic.

Transfer potatoes and meat to the veggies, add the can of tomatoes, the bay leaves and the Worcestershire sauce; using the can as a measuring jug, add two cans water. Stir and let bubble away over moderate heat for one hour, stirring from time to time.

After 45 minutes, add the cornstarch to 1/2 cup water, add to the stew and cook until the meat is tender.

Serve hot; you may sprinkle some fresh parsley on top, but this is totally optional.