Continuing the theme of cheap, tasty and quick midweek suppers, here is a really old English dish from the book 'At Elizabeth David's Table'. I have tinkered with the recipe a little and whilst not quick to cook (it is a braise after all), the prep effort is minimal. Get the dish together on the weekend and then bung the lot in a slow cooker before you go to work, you will come home to a very welcoming smell in your kitchen. The flavour of this stew is very deep and without the need for meat stock. If you don't have any port, use red wine and a tsp of sugar. For four:
1.2kg shin of beef - boned and trimmed weight
1x 440ml can of guinness or dark beer
100ml cheap port
2 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
A little veg oil
2 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
Lots of black pepper and salt to taste
Heat a large frying pan on the stove until smoking. Heavily season and oil the beef and fry until really crusty and brown on one side. Flip the beef and toss in the onions. Colour the beef to the same degree on the other side and fry the onions at the same time stiring occasionally so they don't burn. Remove the beef and add the flour stirring well into the onions. Remove the onions and put into the bottom of a slow cooker with the herbs, beef on top along with any juices. Deglaze the pan with the guinness, mushroom ketchup and port. Allow to bubble a little then add to the slow cooker. Season the stew with more black pepper and salt.
You can stop here if you like and the beef will keep in the fridge for a few days until you want to cook it. In the morning before you go to work, set the slow cooker to low and set to braise for 5 hours. The stew gets better after a couple of days so you can leave in the fridge when cool and reheat later in the week. Any leftovers make a great pie filling or can be shredded back into the gravy and run though some pasta with parmesan for more Italian twist.
I served mine with colcannon mash and roasted field mushrooms. Tear chunks off the beef (it will fall apart) and knapp over the gravy.