Big Red: Braised Beef & Tomatoes

At this time of year there’s always lots of press extolling the virtues of slow cookers. Occasionally I wonder about getting one, then I remember that we have a giant slow cooker tucked into the corner of the kitchen. It’s called an oven. O-V-E-N. Set low, it also conveniently heats the room. Bet your benchtop slow cooker can’t do that…

Big Red Braised Beef
I’ve just taught the Boy Wonder how to make this, which is good, except I’m going to have to teach him something else really quickly lest we end up eating it all winter. It takes about 15 minutes prep on the stovetop, then you can put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. Quantities here are approximate – you can always stretch a smaller amount of meat with more vegetables and/or cooked beans.

2Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 sticks celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
500-750g beef suitable for stewing (shin is my favourite), cut into 2cm cubes
2tsp smoked paprika and/or 1tsp dried chilli (less if you don’t like it hot)
2Tbsp flour
125ml red wine
2 tins tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C. Take a large, lidded, ovenproof, stoveproof pot (like a Le Creuset) and put it over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the onions, carrots, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the spices and fry for a minute or two, then add the beef and flour Turn up the heat and fry for another couple of minutes, stirring to try to brown it as much as possible. Add the wine and let it bubble up, then add the tomatoes. Stir well. Add enough water to barely cover the meat (you may not need any) and bring to the boil. Clamp the lid on and stick the pot in the oven. Cook for at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the meat is so tender it falls apart when prodded. Taste for seasoning. If the sauce is too thin, let it cook with the lid off on the stovetop for 10 minutes to reduce. Eat then and there with crusty bread or mash and some sort of greens, or let cool and refrigerate/freeze.



  1. July 11, 2011 / 9:09 pm

    This looks so big and bold – I bet the flavours really melded together during cooking – it sounds sooo good!

  2. July 11, 2011 / 9:31 pm

    Finally a dish I can make here .Winter is outside and this looks like it's gonna warm us inside.I also make braised beef slightly different and without slowcooker and it is a great comforting dish:)

  3. July 11, 2011 / 10:24 pm

    Lovely stuff, although it's too hot here to make this just at the moment. I really like using my two slow cookers (why 2? it's a long story) but I've got to admit that they don't warm anything but the food.

  4. July 11, 2011 / 11:58 pm

    yeah slow cookers are overrated, I find they make things taste watery. Love the look and sound of this, beef shin my fav too 🙂

  5. July 12, 2011 / 1:02 am

    Beef stew is one of my favorite meals. That looks especially delicious and is making me hungry despite it being my bedtime!

  6. July 12, 2011 / 1:12 am

    i too love a bit of beef shin …

  7. July 12, 2011 / 5:05 am

    ah yes an oven… I too have one of those… NO… WAIT… builders taking it away… NO…STOP… however shall I make this glorious stew…? oh yes I can use the slow cooker I haven't purchased yet… bloody hell!… look Lucy, just bung it in a giant tuppaware container and ship it to Belleau Cottage, Bel….

  8. July 12, 2011 / 8:00 am

    well…it is july in edinburgh and chilly out…this stew looks just about right for tonight!! 🙂

  9. July 12, 2011 / 10:25 am

    What a beautiful, comforting stew… I have a slow cooker, a gift from my mom, but I must say, I prefer the oven.

  10. July 13, 2011 / 7:56 pm

    I gave my slow cooker to my mom but she doesn't use it either…

  11. July 22, 2011 / 8:59 am

    Hi Lucy,

    I hope you don’t mind me posting this, but I saw your Big Red recipe and thought it was a great savoury twist,

    Thisis exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for in the To-Tuscany Foodie Blogger Competition:

    There's a chance to win a week in a Tuscany Villa and £150 towards flights if you have the time to enter. Plus there's also a runners up prize draw for everyone who enters!

    All you have to do is make your own tuscan- isnpired recipe and follow the guidelines on the competition page.

    Please feel free to email for more information.

    Good luck and happy cooking!


  12. July 22, 2011 / 9:37 am

    looks real good and hearty!

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