Beef Stew with Honey and Figs

My brother in law is from Wales and makes excellent stews. Inspired by him I’ve been experimenting with honey in stew recipes to bring out sweet and savoury flavours.

I have seen that Moroccan tagine dishes often have honeyed apricots added which got me thinking about all the dried figs I have in my cupboard (bought joyfully whilst on holiday in Portugal).  The obvious thing for me was to pair the figs with honey and meat in a slow cooked dish.

For this beef stew you simply chop carrots, butternut squash, red onion and onions, lots of garlic, thyme (in our case growing vigorously in the garden, the only herb we’ve not managed to kill off due to neglect), aubergine and a handful of dried figs. I cut the beef into small cubes and popped in a bay leaf.

I generally don’t measure ingredients when cooking as the pleasure is in the guesswork. It also means I’m forced to pay attention to how flavours work together.

For the seasoning, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper and some chilli flakes topped off with tomatoe purée and chopped tomatoes. Now for the honey, simply scoop a spoon or two into the mix. You don’t need much honey to add sweetness and it works very well with the figs and carrots. The honey I used is from West Cork, though for a stew you really don’t need to use your best honey.

If your quantities are large it may be worth popping in a vegetable stock cube and for good measure adding a splash of Worcester sauce or soy sauce (depending on your taste, I’ll be honest I went for a dash of both!). Cover your beef and vegetables with a bit of water (not too much as you want the stew to be rich not watery). I put the dish in the oven for 4 hours on 175 degrees Celsius. It made stew for 8 and I was delighted with the honey beef taste which was was hearty and delicious!