I'm a huge fan of affordable, hearty, one-pot meals and was delighted when Red Tractor Beef & Lamb got in touch to ask me to participate in their #LivePeasant initiative. The aim of the campaign is to encourage home cooks to embrace a more simple, rustic approach to cooking inspired by the current ‘Peasant Food’ trend which is captivating chefs and restaurants around the world. One of my daughter's absolute favourite foods is Gnocchi so when I spotted Slow Cooked Beef with Gnocchi on the list of their recipes it was a no brainer to give it a try. I've never thought of incorporating gnocchi within a stew but it worked fantastically well and I'll definitely be experimenting further using it in this way to add potatoes without the peeling!
Stews and casseroles are one of the simplest, most traditional forms of cooking. By utilising cheaper cuts of beef and lamb and cooking them 'low and slow' the resulting dishes will be truly melt in the mouth tender. Taking a little time to prepare in advance and leaving your dish to slow cook through the day means that a delicious meal will be ready and waiting whenever you are. There's nothing better than coming home to the smell of something bubbling away in the slow cooker. Definitely a case of less haste more taste! When buying your meat, whether its beef or lamb, do keep an eye out for a quality mark like the Red Tractor logo which guarantees the meat you are buying is farm assured. Producers can only display this badge when they meet strict food safety and animal welfare standards so you can buy with confidence and a clear conscience.
These days we all have such busy lifestyles and the weekly family schedule is tricky at the best times with an assortment of clubs, classes and different meal times to accommodate. The latest statistics tell us that parents today have just 34 minutes free for preparing the evening meal. Slow cooking is such a good option for busy people and one pot meals mean less washing up. It's a win win situation! I adapted the recipe below to make it in my slow cooker rather than the oven. It really was easy to prep. For ultimate effortlessness I bought ready diced Red Tractor British Beef and didn't bother to brown or fry the meat or veggies. Everything went straight into the slow cooker, I gave it a quick stir and left it to bubble away on low all day adding the gnocchi in about 45 minutes before serving. The resulting dish was absolutely amazing and was quickly devoured by the whole family with crusty bread on the side to mop up the spiced tomatoey juices. The only change I'd make next time - and believe me there will most definitely be a next time - would be to use slightly less stock as when using a slow cooker the juices don't get a chance to reduce.
Slow Cooked Beef with Gnocchi
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2-2½ hours
450g/1lb lean boneless shin or chuck steak, cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2.5ml/½tsp cayenne pepper, optional
30ml/2tbsp rapeseed oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped OR 1 x 300g pack diced onions
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped OR 5ml/1tsp garlic purée
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
200ml/7fl oz good, hot vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick, halved
15ml/1tbsp tomato purée
1 x 400g pack fresh gnocchi
30ml/2tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
1. Place the beef in a large plastic food bag. Add the seasoning, cayenne and paprika; seal, shake well to coat the beef in the spices.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
3. Cook the beef for 4-5 minutes in batches until brown on all sides. Transfer to a 1.7L/3pint heatproof casserole pot.
4. In the same frying pan, cook the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Spoon into the casserole pot.
5. Add the tomatoes and stock, cinnamon, sugar and tomato purée. Bring this to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2-2½ hours.
6. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the gnocchi.
7. Garnish with the parsley and serve with crusty bread.
Tip: If preferred substitute the gnocchi for freshly cooked pasta shapes.
For more #LivePeasant recipe inspiration take a look at the following one pot slow cooked beef and lamb recipes. The Pepperpot Stew is next on my 'must try' list.
Disclosure : This is a commissioned post for Red Tractor Beef & Lamb. All views expressed are my own.