Rich beef stew with winter vegetables

In my part of the world it is wintry, with cool, bright days, and chilly nights. This rich stew is perfect for this time of year. Tender beef and root vegetables, with undertones of smoky paprika, garlic and onions, and finished with the freshness of gremolata sprinkled over the top, it is only made better when accompanied with a large glass of red wine, and eaten in front of a roaring fire.

Serves 4 – 6

1 kg chuck steak, cut into 2 1/2 cm cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, diced
4 cups good quality beef stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
2 parsnips, chopped into large pieces
1 turnip, chopped into large pieces

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons very finely chopped lemon zest

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In a large, heavy based casserole dish heat the butter and oil over high heat and brown the beef in batches. Put the beef to one side, and then lower the heat. Cook the onions and garlic until they soften slightly and then add the browned beef and any juices, beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, smoked paprika and salt. Simmer covered, over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Add the vegetables and cook for another 30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and the beef tender.  Serve with the gremolata and mashed potato or soft polenta.

Gremolata: Combine the parsley, garlic and lemon zest and mix together. sprinkle a little over the stew, and pass the remainder for guests to add according to taste.

Wine choice: Lagrein, an Italian varietal. It’s an earthy, full bodied wine with rich fruit tones, and is an excellent pairing with this dish. Shameless spruiking of this particular Lagrein is in order after an almost Bacchanalian feast, where we tried it with this stew and pronounced them as perfectly wonderful together.