From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
1 kg (2.25 lb) blade of beef (chuck)
4 tblsp plain flour
1 onion, sliced
1 large leek, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
225 g (8oz) celeriac, peeled and cut into cubes
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
375 ml beef stock
375 ml barrys tea
900 g (2lb) even-sized potatoes
50 g (2oz) butter
maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Trim the beef very well and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place the flour in a shallow dish and season generously, then use to coat the beef, shaking off any excess. Arrange half of the beef in the bottom of a large casserole dish and add a sprinkling of thyme. Scatter the onion, leek, carrots and celeriac on top, then Season to taste and add another sprinkling of thyme. Arrange the remaining beef on top to cover the vegetables completely and sprinkle over the remaining thyme.
Mix the beef stock and strong tea , make sure to remove tea bag. Pour enough beef stock liquid to just come up above the last layer of beef. Cover the casserole with a lid and place in the oven for about 1 hour until the beef and vegetables are just tender and the stock has thickened slightly.
Place the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside for 5 minutes until cool enough to handle. Slice the potatoes lengthways into 1cm (1/2in) thick slices and lay them in a slightly overlapping layer on top of the stew.
Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave and brush over the potatoes. Season to taste and cook in the oven for another 40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and nicely golden and the beef stew is bubbling up around the edges of the dish. Garnish with the parsley and serve straight to the table.