About this recipe: This started out as a simple beef stew recipe of my mother's when I was growing up. I've adapted it to suit my own tastes, to accommodate a variety of different meats, and to make in a slow cooker. The leftovers are perfect for freezing for future lunches, and it's very easy to prepare and cheap to make; ideal when you have limited time and budget.
You can use almost any meat, though I personally prefer chicken, lamb, beef, and sausages - 450g is the absolute minimum amount of meat you should use, but if you really like meat and money is no obstacle, try and double that for a really good stew.
For the potatoes, I prefer red baking or heritage varieties.
If you find parsnip too bitter for your taste, you can replace this with a whole celeriac, cut into chunks.
For the stock, use chicken stock for chicken or pork; beef stock for beef, lamb or sausages.
Use enough gravy granules to make 1.2L (2 1/2 pints) of gravy (this is highly dependent on your choice of gravy brand and how thick you like your stew; be sure to read the back of the packet and use as much as it suggests appropriate - as with the stock, change your gravy type to suit your meat choice).
Don't forget - if keeping leftovers for later, separate the stew into smaller individual portions inside airtight containers or freezer bags, and immediately put into the refrigerator - do not leave it out on the side to cool, or try to cool it in a single large container, otherwise you risk food poisoning. Once chilled you can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, or you can then freeze the stew and keep it for up to 2 months. Obviously, take care when reheating it to ensure that it's hot right through.
Loved this recipe, very easy to understand with excellent instructions for the slow cooker newbie. This large family have just finished our first bowlfuls now and the lads are already requesting seconds! I was hoping to have enough left over to zap with a handwhisk and turn into a soup bowl for tomorrow's lunch...I doubt that'll happen now Thank you so much! - 27 Mar 2014