For me, brown stew is probably the most comforting food ever.
Call it tradition, call it heritage, call it culture if it pleases you, but damn, nothing comforts my soul like a delicious brown stew.

It is also a very cost-effective, easy and nourishing meal.
All you need is meat, onions, potatoes, salt and pepper.
Geez, you can even do without the pepper.

The secret to a really good brown stew lies in the onions.

500g lamb or beef
2-4 medium sized onions
4 medium potatoes
salt and pepper
Stick cinnamon and whole all spice (optional)

Like I said, the secret lies in the onions.
Use as many onions as you fancy. The more, the merrier.

Place a little bit of cooking oil in a heavy-based pot.
Braise the onions on a fairly high, but not too hot heat.

Some people insist that you can put the onions and meat in the pot at the same time.
I strongly disagree.
The reason for this?
Taste a raw onion.
Now taste a braised onion.
That is the difference.

If you put the meat into the pot at the same time as the onion, the meat will absorb the flavour of raw onion. We want the meat to absorb the flavour of braised onions.

So be patient. Braise the onions until they are deliciously brown. Stir regularly.
Do not add water.
Adding water speeds up the browning process, but it defeats the purpose. We want braised onions. Not boiled onions.
I like to add two pieces of stick cinnamon and four whole all spice to the onions for extra flavour, but this is optional. It is just as good without.

When the onions are nicely browned (it may take up to twenty minutes), add the meat and seal it on all sides by stirring and tossing it to mix well with the onions.

Add a cup of water and leave to cook, covered on a medium heat. Occasionally stir and add water if necessary.
Cook lamb for at least an hour and a half. Two-hours or more for beef.

Add potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, adjust water and cook for another half an hour, or until the potatoes are cooked.

You can add many different vegetables to this basic recipe for variation.
Veggies that work well without any further additional spices or stuff include;

Green beans
Peas and carrots
Shredded cabbage

And of course water blommetjies!

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