You are going to love this slow-cooked stew recipe, because it’s so simple and gives consistently good results. The meat should be cut into approximately 2cm cubes. Packs from most supermarkets are normally about that size. In stew recipes, you’re often told to brown off the meat first. But I’ve done loads of tests and found the meat is just as delicious and tender without browning it first, so I’ve removed this stage from the recipe.
If using the oven to cook your stew, preheat it to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Trim the ends off your celery and roughly chop the sticks. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel the carrots, slice lengthways and roughly chop.
Put a casserole pan on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables and the bay leaves into the pan with 2 lugs of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes. Add your meat and flour. Pour in the booze and tinned tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season with a teaspoon of sea salt (less if using table salt) and a few grinds of pepper.
Bring to the boil, put the lid on and either simmer slowly on your hob or cook in an oven for 3 hours. Remove the lid for the final half hour of simmering or cooking. When done, your meat should be tender and delicious. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving, and taste it to see if it needs a bit more salt and pepper. You can eat your stew as it is, or you can add some lovely dumplings to it.