Beef stew with chilli, chocolate and giant garlic croutons

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

Made with steak-sized pieces of meat rather than small cubes, this dish is surprisingly elegant as long as you don’t drip gravy everywhere when you dish it up. Serve with plain boiled cabbage to offset the richness; you might want some mash, too, if you’ve got a very hungry bunch to feed.

Feeds 8

What you will need:

Olive oil or dripping
1.75 kg chuck roast or braising steak, cut into thick portions (think of small steaks, not stewing cubes)
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
4 large onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, squashed under a blade of a knife
800ml red wine and/or fresh beef stock (in whatever combination you prefer)
3 dried bird’s eye chillies, crumbled
Small bunch of thyme
1 ½ tablespoon of Dijon mustard
Sea salt and fresh pepper
20g-40g very good, very dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

Heat the oven to 150C/Gas 2. In batches in a large casserole, heat the olive oil or dripping and brown the meat carefully, removing the pieces to a plate when done.

Add a little more oil or dripping to the casserole and soften the carrots, celery and onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue frying for a further 5 minutes or until it turns golden.

Return the meat to the pan, along with the red wine and stock, chillies and thyme. Bring to a simmer then cover and transfer the casserole to the oven for 2 hours. Cut the top off two of the garlic bulbs, put them in a small roasting dish and place in the oven for 1½ hours.

Remove the garlic and set aside until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the now-soft garlic cloves from their skins and mash with the butter. Spread the mixture over one side of each slice of baguette.

When the stew is nearly ready, stir in the chocolate, making sure it melts evenly into the sauce – it should add richness but shouldn’t overwhelm it. Sit as many of the garlic-buttered bread slices on top of the stew as you can fit in one layer, so they can soak up the juices. Put any you can’t fit in the pot on a baking sheet. Leave the lid off the casserole and place it, and the sheet of croutons, in the oven for a final 5–10 minutes. Remove when the bread is golden and just toasted on top. Serve the extra croutons alongside the stew, with plenty of sauce and some cabbage.

This recipe is taken from How to Feed Your Friends with Relish by Joanna Weinberg

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