1. Heat the butter or dripping in a large frying pan and brown the pancetta or streaky bacon until the fat runs. Transfer to a large casserole or saucepan.
2. In the same fat in the same frying pan, fry the chunks of beef until nicely browned all over. Do this in batches, so as not to crowd the pan, and transfer each batch to the casserole when it is nicely coloured.
3. Now pour a little of the stock into the pan to deglaze it, scraping any residue from the base of the pan with a wooden spatula and tipping it all into the casserole. Pour in the rest of the stock, the roasted, pureed tomatoes and the vegetables, adding a little water only if needed to cover the meat and veg.
4. Add the herbs, tied into a bouquet garni, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then set to simmer very gently, with the lid on but slightly ajar.
5. Cook the stew for about three hours, until the meat is completely tender. Add a little hot water if the meat is starting to get exposed and dry out. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes.
© River Cottage
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