Beef and Ale Stew

Beef Stew

Is that picture too honest? My food photography’s still got a LONG way to go, but I hope you can imagine how delicious this was, how tender the meat, how sumptuous the sauce. I bought proper meat from Booths, which is always locally sourced and superb quality.

I’m so grateful for Booths, and so lucky to have one just a few minutes drive from my house. For those of you unfamiliar with this lovely store, Booths is a Northern supermarket which started in Blackpool in 1847. Selling higher end farmers market style meat, cheese and vegetables, Booths is like the North’s answer to Waitrose.

Here you can find creamy and tangy Sykes Fell sheep’s cheese, Morecambe Bay potted shrimps and Stringers beer from Cumbria. You can sift through rows and rows of differently flavoured and textured crackers, and pop in to see which latest veggies have been sent by the suppliers. On my last visit I was charmed to see a ‘picked today’ brown bag of muddy spuds. The deli counter’s bulging and the staff are knowledgeable (topside of Beef easier and tastier for pot roast). They try to source their ingredients locally where possible, which is great news for northern farmers and producers, and a trip round Booths makes the weekly supermarket shop a bit of a treat.

Yes it can be expensive, but that’s usually because the products are excellent quality, often organic and local. And if you pick carefully and make the most of their offers (or get a Booths card) it needn’t break the bank. So I splashed out on the beef, but we ate this with cheap and plentiful English veggies.

Beef and Ale Stew
(Serves 4)

splash olive oil
700g stewing beef
3 tablespoons flour
2 large onions, chopped into small pieces
1 bottle light ale
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.
2. Mix the beef with the flour and season with salt and pepper.
3. Brown the meat in olive oil over a hot heat, a few pieces at a time.
4. Remove the meat from the pan and fry the onions over a lower heat for about 10 minutes.
5. Return the meat to the pan, add the ale and let it bubble away for 5 minutes. 6. Add the thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and cook for 2.5 hours (or it won’t really come to any harm if you leave it for longer.
7. Serve with mashed potato and steamed veggies.

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