Beef stew conjures up melt-in the-mouth beef, wonderful vegetable flavours and a tasty thick sauce. Traditionally a beef stew needs to be slow-cooked: generally because the cuts of beef in a stew are less expensive cuts and need to tenderise during cooking. However, if you buy slightly more expensive cuts of beef and add some red wine, you can make a quick and easy beef stew that's just as good as a slow-cooked stew.
Peel an onion, two carrots, one parsnip, two turnips using a peeler. Cut the vegetables into small cubes using a knife; about 1/4 inch in size, this lets them cook quick and easy. Put to one side.
Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes using a sharp knife. Put a little cooking oil in a heavy-based pan, and heat the oil on the stove.
Put the beef into the hot oil and let it brown, then turn over the cubes of beef, so you get all the sides brown. It takes about five minutes on high heat.
Remove the beef cubes using a draining spoon; this lets the juices remain in the pan. Put the beef cubes on a plate. Turn the heat down to medium.
Put the chopped onion in the pan and let it soften, but don't let it burn. Add the other vegetables, once the onion is soft and stir them in the meat juices and oil using a wooden spoon.
Add 1 tsp of ground black pepper and 1 tsp of sea salt to the pan and stir. Toss in two dried bay leaves. Add four or five shakes of Worcestershire sauce and stir.
Put the beef back into the pan and give everything a stir. Turn up the heat and add three-fourths of a bottle of red wine; something like Shiraz is fine. Let the wine boil, so the alcohol evaporates; it takes about 10 minutes, once it's boiling.
Add 2 cups of water and turn the heat down to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan. Leave everything to cook for 30 minutes. The wine will make the beef tender.
Mix 1 tbsp of plain white flour with a little water and mix, so you form a fairly runny paste. Make sure there aren't any lumps.
Remove the lid from the pan and take the pan off the heat. Let it stand for five minutes, then pour in the paste and immediately stir. You will find it mixes evenly because the temperature of the stew is below boiling point. Keep stirring gently for a minute, and then return the pan to the heat. Turn down the heat, just so you see the occasionally bubble. Put on the lid. Leave for 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and transfer the contents of the pan to a serving bowl. Serve your quick and easy beef stew to your guests.
Serve the beef stew with plain boiled potatoes tossed in a little butter with parsley garnish. A few green beans on the side adds colour.