As a busy working mum I definitely opt for quick and easy dinners when I can, without compromising on taste of course, so I get more time to put my feet up and catch up with the Mini Mes after school. Red Tractor have a new #LivePeasant initiative which encourages home cooks, like myself, to embrace simple and rustic meals for the family. It's a great way to boost your lamb and beef intake with minimal effort so I was eager to be involved and put a recipe or two to the test.
Stews and casseroles are a favourite of ours and universally one of the most traditional methods of cooking, so I decided to give the Slow Cooked Beef with Gnocchi a go first. It's something that is ideal for a pro or a novice in the kitchen to try and as it is cooked over a few hours it allows the flavours to really develop for a truly delicious meal. One-pot cooking is just so convenient!
We popped along to our supermarket and picked up some diced beef, looking for the Red Tractor symbol which represents quality and shows the meat has met specific standards in terms of farming and preparation. The rest of the ingredients I already had at home in the cupboards, as I'm sure a lot of people probably do, making it a great low cost dish to make time and time again.
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
- 5ml/1tsp paprika
- 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 sugar
- 15ml/1tbsp tomato purée
- 1 x 400g pack fresh gnocchi
- 30ml/2tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
- 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.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
- Cook the beef for 4-5 minutes in batches until brown on all sides. Transfer to a 1.7L/3pint heatproof casserole pot.
- In the same frying pan, cook the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Spoon into the casserole pot.
- 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.
- 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the gnocchi.
- Garnish with the parsley and serve with crusty bread.
We all really enjoyed this dish and I would happily cook it again. The recipe is easy to adapt for a slow cooker and you could add ground cinnamon instead of a stick or passata instead of chopped tomatoes if you prefer for a smoother finish. It's incredibly versatile.
We have used gnocchi in our salmon bakes before but it was lovely to try it in a different way, it also meant I didn't need to cook a carbohydrate separately which saved even more time. I'm now really looking forward to trying a few other ideas from the website later this week - Lamb Rogan Josh next!