In my humble opinion, beef shin makes one of the finest stews you can get. While I am also a big fan of oxtail, you have the hassle of the bones, and a beef stew that is rich, melt in the mouth and bursting with flavour cannot be beaten – especially at this time of year when the cold and the damp starts to get in the bones.
This week beef shin is on special offer of £10 per kg.
I always avoid pre-packed “stewing beef” as you have no idea which joint it has come from. Usually it is a mix of off cuts so that some will cook quicker than other bits. Shin is particularly tough and you cannot cook it quickly. It requires hours of gentle cooking to turn the meat into rich, melt-in-the-mouth tenderness. It is seriously worth the wait.
I like to do a fridge clearout when making a stew – using those carrots and celery and other veg that have seen better days. I also like to add a bit of heat with a chilli or hot sauce. Whole cloves of garlic and strips of orange rind is another winner – let us know what your favourite is.
The basic recipe is to dust the diced shin in flour, brown in the pot in small batches over a high heat and remove. Add the chopped vegetables to brown, return all the shin to the pot, cover with a decent stock and/or wine or stout, along with your herbs (bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary or thyme). You can add tomato puree as well – then bring to the boil and then place in a low oven (160 °C) to cook for at least 3 hours – although the longer and slower the better.
This is a great way to feed a group as it can be prepared and cooked in advance as it tastes better the next day. It’s ideal for the weekend, with any extra for a mighty fine midweek meal.