I've never really used chestnuts apart from making chestnut stuffing but when seeing a pack of vacuum packed cooked chestnuts reduced after Christmas, I felt the urge to try something new.
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts are fairly low in fat but also have a lovely sweetness and are surprisingly high in vitamin C, folates and lots of other trace nice stuff. The great thing too is they have a fantastic texture which makes you feel like you're eating more meat than you are. This is a great thing for our health and for the environment and if something tastes as delicious as this, trust me, you really won't mind padding out 330g of beef to serve lots of people! What's more the sweet chestnuts makes this an easier sell to kids.
Beef, Mushroom and Chestnut Stew - Serves 3-4
330g Stewing beef (this is just what my pack weighed, if I had a slightly bigger or smaller pack I'd keep the other proportions the same)
2 tsp Olive oil or butter if you prefer
1 Carrot, chopped
1 Medium sized onion, chopped
2 Cloves of garlic, chopped
100g Smoked bacon, chopped
150ml Red wine
100ml Water (see note below*)
1 Bay leaf
Sprig of thyme
200g Cooked chestnuts
150g Mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms)
1 tsp Cornflour (cornstarch)
Fry the beef in 1 tsp of the oil until browned. This browning adds more flavour so do use a high heat and fry in batches if needed.
Once the beef is brown, put into a slow cooker and use the wine to scrape up the yummy brown bits from the bottom then pour that in the slow cooker. Wipe the frying pan then fry the carrot, onion and bacon until the onion is starting to brown and the bacon has released some of it's fat, add the garlic and fry for another minute or so and add to the slow cooker. Use approx 100 ml or so* of boiling water to get any flavourful bits off the bottom of the frying pan (see note below).
(If you prefer you can omit the oil and fry in the fat released from the beef and the bacon if it's fatty enough to do so.)
Add the herbs and cook on high for approx 3-4 hours (or on low for longer) or until the beef is pretty much done. Fry the mushrooms in the butter until browned and add to the stew with the chestnuts. Cook for a further 30 mins - 1 hour.
If you want to thicken the gravy, mix the cornflour with a little water and then mix it into the stew while the heat is on high and the stew is bubbling. Leave to thicken and until all the floury flavour is cooked out.
This fantastic stew makes a meal out of a small amount of beef so I've linked it up to the credit crunch munch here!
*Slow cookers do vary in how much liquid they lose over the cooking time. The one I use now is a family sized oval one but I used to have a tall narrow one. My old slow cooker barely lost a tsp of water over the cooking time but, perhaps the shape means my new one loses far more. It also tends to cook a little quicker. So, as a result I add a bit more water to a stew now than my old one would have needed. If you're unsure, don't add the water at the start but add it later on if it's starting to dry out.