People’s Republican Beef Stew

For some reason I’ve only just noticed Sara Bedford’s autumnal stew recipe from, appropriately, the first of the month. It is bubbling away as I write and smelling fabulous, so I thought, while we all wait for the The Thick Of It to start (heavens! I haven’t been this excited since Wednesday when the next DVD in the third series of the West Wing arrived from Lovefilm), let’s get a stew meme going.

Stew is perfect post-canvassing/local party social food because it keeps itself warm and can be stretched to accommodate unexpected numbers. If only it began with the same letter as “politics”. Also perfect for student parties for  much the same reasons. Plus people will want to shag you if you demonstrate  the ability to make stew for them. Trufax.

And so I give you Mortimer’s More-or-Less Normandaise Beef Stew, which is my attempt at recreating something amazing I ate from a stall at a French fair in Whetstone once (quantities are roughly speaking for three/four, but I’m not one of nature’s precision cooks, as you will soon see):

500g of casserole steak

Enough new potatoes, carrots and peas for the number you’re cooking for

One large onion, chopped

Two cored and sliced eating apples

Bottle of good quality apple cider

Beef stock

2 tablespoons of caramelised onion chutney (to be quite honest I’ve no idea how vital this is; I make it myself so tend to add it to everything)

1 tablespoon of mustard (more if you like a good peppery stew)

Lots of thyme

1 tablespoon of cornflour

A good 50ml or so slug of single cream


1. Brown the beef in a stockpot with plenty of seasoning and olive oil.

2. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions and apples. Cover with a mixture of three-quarters cider and one quarter beef stock; add the chutney, mustard and thyme and give it all a stir.

3. Cook on lowish for a stew amount of time (i.e. longer the better, but an hour minimum, in which case you’d better whack the dial up a bit) In the last quarter of cooking time, add the cream, peas and cornflour.

4. Check the flavour and season.

Serve with a green salad and vinaigrette, and crusty bread to mop up.


  1. Huzzah! It’s West Wing season two and Cinema Paradiso in this household, but the reaction’s just the same.

    But will have to leave it to others to pass judgement on the stew, being a vegetarian and all.

  2. In the Thick of It passed expectations. I did wonder how they could follow previous season. We had meatloaf with ours. But if ever I canvas up there (my mum and my sibs all live off Butterstile Lane*) can I have some stew please?

    *You would have to ask them the recipe for that.

  3. It is good you’re eating nice seasonal food- you can get even more autumnal at & that.

    Re: Normandy itself. I happened to be wandering round & was in Caen a few months ago. I decided it would be good to go on a giant Normandy visit, taking in both the medieval parts & the wartime parts. You could go in an October when it’s apples/cider time 🙂

    Regrettably I am in no position to go gadding around unless someone else pays, & even they can’t pay unless some of their pals own a property in the area & thus knock out accomodation costs, so I haven’t got much choice over what I actually do. Would you believe nearly all my mates haven’t got jobs? 🙂

    On about the sourcing of meat & the effects of industrial farming (& guess who’s paying… that’s right, urban taxpayers who have to eat the produce of farmers whose fields are too exhausted by chemicals to pay for themselves, via the subsidy system).

    I hail this author. In my view he makes an overwhelming case that will sway the “right” & the “left”.

    I have no problem with attending farmers’ markets & buying locally sourced produce. I know some people manage to come up with reasons why they find it objectionable but I don’t see why.

    Have been reading a fair few books along these lines- unfortunately my exercise regime has taken a backseat so I’ve had to eat less in order to avoid becoming a fat fucker 😀

  4. Recipe looks pretty good, my only addition would be that of a slow cooker. Don’t bother browning and adding and stirring and simmering, just chuck all the ingredients in and leave it on for 6 hours. Stir occasionally. Serve with bread.


  5. Mmmm…beef stew. The legacy of boarding school was not being able to look anything that called itself ‘stew’ in the face until about four years ago – making up for lost time now.

    A couple of anchovy fillets – even for them as don’t like ’em – will add a wonderful deep saltimess to anything involving beef or lamb. Doesn’t taste fishy in the slightest. It’s a bit like adding marmite to tomato-y sauces – something to do with umami.

    And no, I’m not quite sure how one’s meant to say that without sounding a bit like Frank Spencer.

    1. “a bit like adding marmite to tomato-y sauces”


      *sets off for larder at a run*

  6. Is that English mustard, or something like a wholegrain mustard? Obviously there’s an enormous difference in strength.

    I’d probably go for a couple of teaspoons of each.

  7. I made this last night and it was lovely – thanks.

    However … I felt I put in too much cream, taking away some of the rich beefiness of the stew. So, my advice would be to go easy on the cream!

    thanks again!

  8. Sounds like a nice recipe.

    One thing though. Speaking as someone brought up in the West Country (albeit someone who saw the light and moved to London) – Apple cider? If you were making Boeuf Bourguignon, would you replace it with grape wine?

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