Lisa’s Letters Home: Beef With Mushroom Sauce

Lisa’s Letters Home: Beef With Mushroom Sauce

If snuggling up to a pot roast is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

You know when people ask you in person/a Facebook quiz/in primary school via a wadded up note what your ultimate comfort food is? I honestly can’t answer that question in less than 500 words. First of all, it depends on why I need comfort. Stress? Sugar. Sadness? Starch. Illness? Chicken soup. Fed up with being pregnant and want to curl up into a ball and cry? A very large bag of Doritos. (Which you can’t eat because you have no stomach room and hideous heartburn. Ah, memories.)

There was a BBC series here many years ago called “The Nation’s Favourite” and one episode was about comfort food. I have no idea who they asked and how they came up with their top 20, but some of the answers were just plain odd. Toast and ice cream? ICE CREAM? Does anyone go for something frozen for comfort? I’m not saying I’d say no to an entire tub of decent ice cream, but when I’m in need of a gastronomic equivalent to a hug, I am not going to head to the freezer section.


Comfort for me is now traditional English dishes like toad in the hole, sausages and mash, a full English breakfast, and sticky toffee pudding. I think one of my criteria for comfort is something meaty, saucy, and something that doesn’t require a lot of effort. Ideally, it would sit atop a mountain of pasta or alongside five different kinds of potatoes (did I mention that I like starch when I’m feeling low?)

I found this very lovely recipe on my Google travels for a slow cooker roast beef with a mushroom sauce: I love that it doesn’t involve tinned soup or bottled sauces, and in fact, didn’t have many ingredients at all. I tweaked the ingredients and cooking method a little, but pretty much stuck to the recipe. It was tender, flavourful, and fed a crowd with leftovers to spare. Even the kids devoured it (minus the mushrooms because fungus is like ewwwww when you’re under 9.)

I’ve mentioned before that I really want to create good food memories for my kids, and would love for them to have a comfort food that reminds them of home. They do have their favourites already, and the best way to their hearts is definitely through their stomachs.

And may I just say a very happy 8th (OMG!) birthday to our firstborn, our beautiful son Jack. Like his mother, he is a very good eater.

Lisa’s Letters Home: Beef With Mushroom Sauce


  • (Serves 6-8 big and little people)
  • 2 lbs/1kg topside, brisket, skirt, flank, or any other cut of beef that can survive long slow cooking
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
  • 200g fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk or cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Season the beef well on all sides and heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat.

Sear the beef on all sides for about 2-3 minutes per side.

Remove from the pan and turn the heat down to medium.

Add a little more oil if needed and sauté the onions and garlic until fragrant and the onions start to go translucent.

Add the mushrooms and fry for another couple of minutes.

Throw in the glass of wine and let it bubble and reduce a bit.

Add the stock, bring to a boil, and let it reduce by around half. Remove the pan from the heat.

To a slow cooker, add the onion and stock mixture, coconut milk, spices, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper. Combine well.

Put the beef on top of the creamy sauce, turn the slow cooker on low, and cook for 6-8 hours.

You could also make this in the oven.

Cook for around 2-3 hours at 160 C/325 F in a dutch oven or lidded casserole dish.

Check it and turn the roast over about midway through cooking, and make sure the sauce hasn’t evaporated too much - add more stock if needed.




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