Recipe: Beef Stew

Thick, rich, and ready to get in my belly!

I love a good, hearty beef stew. It can take a little effort, but oh, man is it worth it.

I made this last week, and I started off by looking at How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, which is a great cookbook if you are looking for something beyond the basics of Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens. Each recipe has tons of variations and substitution suggestions to make each dish your own.

This recipe is an amalgamation of Mr. Bittman’s recipe and several additions that give a rich, thick, hearty stew.

Ingredients

  • 2.5-3 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T. cooking oil (I used avocado)
  • 2T butter
  • 2 sweet onions, chopped
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1/2t. dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2c red wine
  • 2T. Tomato Paste
  • 3T. All-purpose flour

Directions

  1.  In a large stockpot, heat oil, and cook the beef in batches to brown. If your pot is large, there may not be a need to cook in batches.
  2. After the beef is browned, add the onions, and cook until clear and tender.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the meat and onions, and stir to combine.
  4. Brown the flour gently, this may take a few minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. the flour will stick to the meat and onions- this is ok. While string, you may notice the flour forming a paste that browns- this is what you want.
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add beef stock and thyme, and stir to combine and continue to stir as the mixture thickens.
  7. As the stock thickens, add wine, tomato paste. Allow the stew to cook on low for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes and carrots and cook soup on low for 20-30 minutes with the lid on the stockpot.
  9. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Continue to simmer as desired, if you want thinner stew, add more stock. If you like a thicker stew, remove the lid and allow the stew to simmer for 10-20 minutes until the stew reaches your desired thickness.

Some notes: I add wine and tomato paste because the acid in both helps break down the collagen in the meat, making it more tender, and giving the stew broth a more luscious mouthfeel. You can do without one or the other if you prefer.

I don’t like peas, so I omit them from my stew. If you like them, add 1/2-1 cup frozen peas about 10 minutes before serving. This keeps them from getting mushy or falling apart.

If you like more of a French-style beef stew, add 1/2-1 cup chopped mushrooms when you add the other veggies.

This recipe makes about 8-10 servings of stew. I like to serve the stew with crusty french bread, or sourdough toast, and of course SALAD. I like a peppery arugula (or rocket) salad with beets, goat cheese, and a simple vinaigrette. That combination really pairs well with the richness of the stew.

And of course, this stew freezes well and tastes better the next day.

Recipe: Stuffed Squash

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This is a very hearty dish! Perfect for cold winter nights!

On Sunday, we made dinner for a friend. She’s a vegetarian, and we wanted to make something hearty, filling and nutritious. After searching for a few stuffed squash recipes, and hitting up the grocery store, I picked up a butternut squash. Originally I wanted a acorn squash, but most of the stores were wiped out from Thanksgiving.

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Fruits and veggies cooking in stock. Juicy Gems add a nice tart aspect to the dish.
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The Chopped Squash “guts”

We chose ingredients that were healthy and worked well together. This recipe is naturally vegan and Gluten free. There is an option to top the squash with poached eggs, if you want a little more protein.

This recipe is a little more work than my usual fare, but it’s really tasty and makes A LOT.  To save time I used one of the bags of Mirepoix (pronounced meer pwah)I had prepped and froze last week. If you don’t do prep cooking, check your local grocery store freezer case for frozen mirepoix.

I get all of my spices from Penzey’s. They have 67 stores across the country, and you can order from their website too. They frequently have coupon codes for free samples or shipping when you place an order- It’s worth a google search!

You can serve this as a main dish or a side.

Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 2 small Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups onion, diced (I used a sweet onion)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounce can approx.)
  • 1 ounce pouch of Juicy Gems dried pomegranate arils
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp. French Tarragon
  • 1 tsp. Rubbed Sage
  • 1 tsp. French Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 T. Air Dried Shallots

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Directions:

  1. Cut Squash in half, remove seeds/membrane. Brush with oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake at 425 for 30-45 minutes, until squash is fork tender.
  3. While squash is cooking, In a large pan, melt butter, and saute fruit, veggies, and spices/herbs. Cook over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Add garbanzo beans, arils, and broth. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or so, or until broth is mostly absorbed and garbanzos are tender.
  4. As the stuffing cooks, once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out about 1/3 of the squash. You want to create a cavity for the stuffing. Set the “guts”  aside- You can chop it up and add it to the stuffing, or serve it on the side (I just ate it with butter while the stuffed squash cooked).
  5. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, and fill the cavities with the veggie stuffing. Top with more salt and pepper, as needed.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish. For added protein when served as a main dish, top each portion with a poached egg. Not sure how to poach an egg? Alton Brown has a great tutorial here. 

 

Talk Back: What is your go-to Vegetarian dish? 

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