A Beef stew light enough for Spring and Summer

Beef stew is normally associated with cold, wet winters and in my book beef stews should be dark and rich in color. We are however experiencing the strangest weather here in Cape Town, one day it is a hot enough for a day at the beach and the next day it is pouring with rain, like today….
You should all know by now that my eating mojo is highly influenced by the weather so we skip from salads to soups to stews….all in one week! Quite tiring, I must say! The other day, I took some stewing beef from the freezer, because a peep through the window revealed a misty, cold day so stew was in order. By the time I started cooking, it was something like 25 C outside, but alas stew it had to be. Normally I do a Guinness beef stew which is rich and dark, but I wanted to do a light beef stew with some young and vibrant spring vegetables. I remembered all the beer I still had in stock from the Eat Inn Producer Awards function and I thought, why not use a lighter beer and thus get a lighter color in the stew…..Eureka, I had a plan for my wintery stew in its summery disguise!

Light Beef Stew
serves 4-6

1 kg stewing beef – I used blade
2 big onions – chopped
1 big carrot – chopped
2 sticks celery – chopped
½ cup(125ml) flour
2 tsp dry coriander
3 cloves
olive oil
2 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 bottles light beer
2 cups vegetable stock
8 small pickling onions – peeled, but keep whole
8 small carrots – cleaned, but keep little green stems on
baby fennel – cleaned and halved
young green beans – topped

Heat the oil in your heavy base pot. Add the chopped vegetables and saute until it starts to brown slightly. Cut the beef into chunks. Season the flour with the spices and dust the beef cubes with the flour. Remove the sauteed vegetables from the pot and keep one side. Add more oil to the pot if needed and brown the beef cubes in small lots. Once the beef has browned, add the sauteed vegetables, the beer, the herbs and the stock and place the lid on the pot. Bring heat down to a very low simmer or place the casserole in the oven for about 1½ – 2 hours. Check once through the cooking time if the stew needs more liquid and adjust if it is needed.After about 1½ hours of cooking add the young vegetables and place the lid back on. Cook for another 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are cooked, but not mushy. Season the stew according to your taste. If the sauce is to runny, make a little paste(roux) with flour and oil and stir into the stew. Serve on warm rice, couscous or polenta….and there you have a light, but comforting beef stew for these change-of-season days!

Cook’s Notes
– I did not give quantities for the spring vegetables, use whatever you like and as much as you like.
– I served my stew on some polenta with grated Parmesan and topped with poor man’s Parmesan.

More comfort food