Beef and Mushroom Stew

This stew really does look after itself. The beef is simmered slowly to produce the most delicious stock, which gives a really glossy, well-flavoured sauce. If using a pressure cooker, cook the stew for 50 minutes. You can also add a bay leaf, orange peel, fresh thyme or Worcester sauce to help liven up the other flavours.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients: Cooking oil; 2lb (900g) stewing steak, cut into 1 1/2 in (4cm) cubes; 3 onions, sliced; 1 garlic clove, crushed; 2 glasses red wine (about 8 fl oz/250ml); 1 lb (450g) button mushrooms; 1· packet Crosse & Blackwell Bonne Cuisine Madeira Wine Gravy or White wine Gravy; Salt and pepper

* Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry half the steak for a few minutes to seal. Repeat with the rest and set aside.
* Place the onions, garlic and red wine in a large pan and boil until reduced by half. Add the sautéed steak and 2 pints (1.2 litres) water, bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook for 1 hour. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 30-40 minutes. You could also add some sliced carrot and celery to the stew at this stage.
* When beef is tender, mix gravy powder with a little water until smooth. Stir in and simmer for 5 minutes. If sauce is too thin, boil and reduce. Season to taste and serve.

Beef in Beer

A recipe by Gary Rhodes

His tender braised beef with a boozy touch is staggeringly tasty!

Beef braised in ale gets my taste buds tingling!  The very rich gravy is his favourite part of the dish and he loves mopping up the last drops with crusty bread!  It is so easy to do – once prepared in the casserole dish, it can be virtually forgotten about while it braises, filling your kitchen with an appetising aroma.

Serves:  6

Ingredients:  2 lb (900g) silverside or chuck steak joint; salt and pepper; ½ oz (15g) beef dripping, or cooking oil; 4 onions, sliced; sprig of fresh thyme; 1 lb (450g) button mushrooms, washed; 15fl oz (450ml) strong beer (bitter); 10fl oz (300ml) beef stock (cubes can be used); 2 tblsp tomato puree; freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

  • Preheat oven to 200oC/400oF, gas Mark 6.  Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat dripping or 2 tblsp in a roasting pan and brown beef on all sides.  Set aside.  Heat 2 tblsp oil in an ovenproof casserole dish, sweat onions for a few minutes, along with the thyme.  Add mushrooms, beer, stock and tomato puree.  Then place beef in casserole dish and simmer, skimming off any impurities.  Once simmering, cover with a lid and cook in oven for 2-2 ½ hours.  The beef will be so tender, you could almost carve it with a spoon!
  • When cooked, remove beef from the casserole dish and wrap in foil.  With a slotted spoon, remove onions and mushrooms from the dish and set aside.  Reboil beer gravy, skimming as it boils.  Check flavour and consistency.  Once strong in taste, if the gravy is too thin, thicken with a little cornflour mixed with water.
  • Return onions and mushrooms to the gravy and reheat.  Carve beef into portions and spoon gravy over the top.  Garnish, serve.

Beef and Veg Stir-Fry

Serves:  4;  Prep:  10 mins;  Cook:  15 mins;  Cals per portion:  270

Strips of beef in a sweet and sour sauce – better than a takeaway any day!

Ingredients:  1 lb/450g steak, suitable for grilling or frying; 1 tbsp/15ml sunflower oil; 2 sticks celery, sliced; 1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced; 1 red pepper, deseeded, and thinly sliced; 4oz/125g large flat mushrooms, thinly sliced; 1 tsp/5ml salt; 1 tsp/5ml sugar; 1 tbsp/15ml tomato puree; 1 tbsp/15ml dark soy sauce; 1 tbsp/15ml cornflour; 1 tbsp/15ml vinegar; 4oz/125g mangetout

  • Cut the beef into thin strips.  Heat oil in a frying pan and fry beef for 4-5 minutes.  Add celery, peppers and mushrooms and fry for 3 minutes.  Stir in salt, sugar, puree and soy sauce.
  • Blend the cornflour with the vinegar and stir into the pan.  Bring to the boil, stirring constantly until it thickens.  Add the mangetout and heat through for 1 minute.  Serve immediately.
  • Tip:  Rump steak is best for stir frys, other more economical cuts which are equally suitable for this dish are silverside or topside.

Sizzling Beef Fajitas with Salsa

Mexican food can be high in fat, but this dish uses extra-lean rump steak, half-fat creme fraiche and only a little oil. The tortillas aren’t brushed with an oil as is usual either.  You’ll notice the great taste, but you only been eating half the fat.

Serves: 4;  Cals per portion:  495;  Total fat per portion: 17g

Ingredients Salsa:  1 beef tomato, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped; 4cm (1 1/2in) piece of cucumber, finely chopped; 1 small red onion, finely chopped; 30ml (2tbsp) fresh chopped coriander; juice of 1 lime; freshly ground black pepper

Fajitas:  325g (12oz) extra-lean rump steak, cut into thin strips; 1-2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and chopped; 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped; juice of 1 lime; 30ml (2 tbsp) fresh chopped coriander; 325 (12oz) pack, 8 ready made wheat tortillas; 15ml (1 tbsp) corn oil; 1 medium spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced; 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced; 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced; 5ml (1tsp) taco seasoning; 100ml (3 1/2fl oz) half-fat creme fraiche

  • Mix all the salsa ingredients together and spoon into a serving bowl.  Cover and leave in the fridge.
  • Put the beef strips in a shall bowl with the chillies, garlic, line juice and coriander.  Mix well, cover and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
  • When you’re ready to cook the beef, wrap the tortillas in tin foil and put them in the oven at 170oC/375oF/Gas 3 to warm them through (or seal them in microwave ffilm and heat them in a microwave oven according to the packet instructions).
  • Remove the beef from the bowl, reserving the marinade.  Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the beef over a high heat, turn once, for 1 min.  Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm on a plate.
  • Stir-fry the onion and peppers over a high heat, until starting to char.  Return beef to the pan and add any reserved marinade.  Add taco seasoning and sizzle for 1-2 mins.  Serve with tortillas, salsa and the creme fraiche drizzled over each portion.