This Simple Beef Shin and Ale Stew cooks low and slow until the beef is MELT IN THE MOUTH. The perfect dinner for a lazy winter weekend.
What cut of meat is Beef Shin?
Beef shin, also known as Beef Shank, comes from the foreshank (or front leg) of the cow. As it’s a heavily muscled area, it has a lot of connective tissues which can make for tough meat. However, if you cook the shin low and slow these fibres break down and will help transform the sauce you are cooking it in. The end result? A beautiful, unctuous and gelatinous meat sauce, absolutely bursting with flavour.
Because of its necessary long cooking time, beef shin tends to be a cheaper cut of meat. BUT if you know how to cook it well you can create wonderful, filling dishes on a tight budget.
How to Cook Beef Shin and Ale Stew
The shin (or shank) needs to be cooked at a low temperature for an extended length of time, to allow the fibres to break down. This recipe is for a simple Beef Shin and Ale Stew with only 9 ingredients – the beef is the star of the show and the cooking process creates a delicious sauce with melt in the mouth meat. I love cooking this on a lazy Sunday afternoon – prep the dish after lunch then let it cook while you relax or get on with your day.
Brown the Beef Shin
Start by seasoning then browning the pieces of beef in a heavy casserole dish or Dutch oven with a lid. You may need to do this in batches. Remove the meat from the pan and then fry the onions, before adding the carrots and herbs.
Add the Ale
Return the beef to the pan then pour over the ale. Allow to simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes before adding the beef stock and tomato paste.
Cook Low & Slow
Mix well, then place the lid on the pan. Place in the oven (pre-heated at 160°c/gas 3/320 Fahrenheit) and cook for three to four hours, checking and stirring every hour or so. Alternatively, transfer to a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
- Can I omit the alcohol? Yes, although I personally think it really adds to the overall flavour, if you cannot cook with alcohol then simply replace with extra beef stock.
- Can I use different vegetables? Yes, though be careful – I chose whole chantenany carrots as they hold their shape during this cooking process. You could replace them with something like squash, swede or potato but make sure you keep them in large chunks – 1-2 inches, otherwise they will disappear into the sauce. If you wish to add something like mushrooms or peas, then add these in the last 30 minutes of cooking. I prefer to serve some steamed greens on the side.
- Can I swap the Ale for Red Wine? Definitely! In fact, keep your eyes peeled for a recipe I’m currently developing for Beef Shin Ragu with Red Wine.
- Can I cook this in a slow cooker or crockpot? Absolutely, what an excellent idea – at the stage in the recipe where you put the stew in the oven, simply transfer instead to your slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
- Can I freeze Beef Shin Stew? Yes, freeze any leftovers as soon as they are cooled. Defrost overnight in the fridge then reheat on the stove or in a microwave until piping hot. This is a great recipe for double-batching and freezing.
- What do I serve with Beef Shin & Ale Stew? I love this dish with creamy mashed potato and steamed broccoli. Any steamed greens are an excellent side. Boiled potatoes, rice or even a simple hunk of fresh crusty bread would be delicious.
- What Ale do I use? I recommend something with a medium to light flavour, like Amber or Pale Ale, but anything you enjoy drinking would be great. Just don’t use lager.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please let me know what other Beef Shin recipes you’d like to see in the comments.
Simple Beef Shin and Ale Stew
- Oven safe Casserole Dish or Dutch Oven with a Lid
- 400 gram Diced beef shin
- 1 onion, diced
- 400 gram chantenay carrots, topped trimmed or regular carrots cut into large chunks
- 500 ml Amber or Pale Ale
- 400 ml beef stock made from one stock cube
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
- Preheat your oven to 160°c/gas 3/320 Fahrenheit
- In a casserole dish or dutch oven with a lid, heat your oil over a medium to high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown the meat – you may need to do so in batches – then set aside.
- Add the diced onion and fry until it begins to soften, then add the carrots and herbs and stir together and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the beef back in and pour over the ale. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the stock and the tomato paste, mix well then put the lid on and place in the pre-heated oven.
- Cook for 3 hours, checking every hour or so and giving it a good stir.
- After 3 hours the meat will be beautiful and soft and will have thickened the sauce. Remove the bay and thyme sprigs and serve with mashed potato and steamed broccoli.