Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
When the nights draw in and the weather turns colder, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a thick, warming winter stew or a fabulously flavorful seasonal soup, particularly if you include some veggies that you’ve grown yourself.
To make these dishes even more satisfying, they’re comparatively healthy, too, without compromising on taste. And, to cap it all off, they’re easy to make, all in one pot, on the stove or a crockpot or slow cooker, saving you time and energy.
These delectable meals don’t even need to be weekend specials as, with minimal fuss and work on your part, you can simply load up your slow cooker (we like this Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, it automatically switches to warming when it’s cooked) in the morning and serve the completed meal when you get home.
If you have a bread maker, you can go the whole hog and enjoy the meal with freshly baked wholegrain, seeded bread, setting your machine to complete its cooking cycle when you’re ready to serve your hearty, healthy one-pot.
Peppery Winter Stew
Divinely flavorsome, the peppery winter stew is easy to make in the slow cooker or in the oven, and it freezes well, too, so you can make it in advance or freeze the leftovers for later use.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little and use whatever vegetables you choose. For this one, aside from the basics listed, we use a wide range of our own seasonal produce, and even veggies that we’ve frozen from our summer harvests.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Slow Cooker Time: 6 to 10 hours
Average Calories Per Serving: 400
- 2 lbs (1 kg) of lean stewing meat, such as beef or venison
- 1 oz (25 g) of plain flour
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 8 oz (225 g) of peeled shallots
- 8 oz (225 g) of finely chopped onion
- 4 finely chopped or crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp of tomato puree
- 4 fl oz (125 ml) of red wine vinegar
- 16 fl oz (50 cl) of red wine
- 2 tbsp of redcurrant jelly
- 2 bay leaves
- Small bunch of fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp of coarse black pepper
- 6 cloves
- 1 to 1.5 pints (600 to 900 ml) of low-salt beef or venison stock
- 2 lb (1 kg) of vegetables cut into generous chunks.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celcius. Take a deep casserole dish, (this one is our choice, it’s high lid doubles as a roaster) place over a medium heat, and add the oil. While it heats up, season the flour with a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and dried chili flakes. Chop your stewing meat into generous cubes of a similar size, then toss them in the seasoned flour. Add the flour-covered meat chunks to the casserole dish, along with the onions, garlic, and shallots and cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat chunks are brown on all sides and the onions are slightly soft. Stir the ingredients regularly to ensure they don’t stick or catch.
Drop the tomato puree into the dish and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and red wine, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Next, place the redcurrant jelly, herbs, pepper, and cloves, along with enough stock to just cover the meat. Bring it back to the boil, then, being very careful not to burn yourself, place the dish in the oven and cook for 1.5 hours.
Remove the dish from the oven and add your vegetable chunks. Cover and return to the oven for another hour, or until the veg has softened. That’s it, you’re ready to serve.
In a Slow Cooker
Complete Step 1, but in a deep frying pan, (we recommend this seasoned cast iron skillet) and don’t turn on the oven. Add the tomato puree, vinegar, and red wine and simmer for 10 minutes. Place this mixture in your slow cooker and add the remainder of your ingredients, including your vegetables and stock. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 6 hours. The meat should be fall-apart tender and the vegetables soft but not soggy.
Prefer lamb instead of beef? Try our mouth-wateringly decadent lamb tagine recipe with its multiple layers of deep flavors.
Got room for dessert?? Try our truly scrumptious Happleback recipe.
Lastly, don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to get your free ebook – 1 Week to a Greener You.
Freeze the leftovers: Allow the stew to cool, then place in an air-tight container in the freezer. To use it, thaw overnight at room temperature. Once defrosted, add to a casserole dish with 5fl oz/150ml stock. Slowly bring it to the boil over a medium heat on the stovetop, then cover and place in the oven, pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celsius, for 45 minutes.
Experiment: Go for root vegetables for a robust seasonal stew, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and beet. Add sprouting broccoli, asparagus, peas, or broad beans 30 minutes before you serve the dish from the oven, or 2 hours before serving from the slow cooker. This ensures they don’t overcook and retains flavor and texture.
Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for your free copy of 1 Week to a Greener You.