Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beef Stew

All over the southern Blog-osphere people are talking about how they wish Fall would come and temps would drop so they can wear sweaters and eat comfy warm meals and drink hot cider.  Not here.  It seems like October ended and with it ended our warm, perfect fall and the cold weather sank in to stay.  It has been cold here, like getting close to freezing, and it makes me want to curl up with a warm drink wearing a sweater and eat comfy meals.  Like beef stew.  
I am going to admit something. I used to hate beef stew.  Like, HATE.  It was always this gray, mushy food with lumps of mealy potatoes and bland gravy.  Gross.  No matter how many recipes I tried,  I could not get past the dislike.  I discovered last year that the thing I hated most was the gross potatoes in the stew.  I took them out and instead decided to serve the stew over some creamy mashed potatoes.  It was an epiphany folks, I tell you it was like I had never had beef stew before!  It was so delicious, I could not get enough.  Now it is something I look forward to, along with sweaters and apple cider.  Long live beef stew!

Beef Stew
recipe courtesy Domestic Diva

1.5 lbs beef stew meat
1/4 c flour
1-2 tsp seasoned salt
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
4-5 good sized carrots, cut into chunks 
1/2 lb mushrooms quartered (or halved if they are smaller)
2 celery ribs, sliced 
1 c diced tomatoes
3 c beef broth
1 c water
1 tbsp beef oxo powder
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
2-3 bay leaves
oil for cooking
**a few dashes hot sauce** optional

If you have a Dutch Oven, now is the time to break that bad boy out.  I have an enamelled cast iron job.  No, it is not Le Crueset, I am cheap and have the Costco Kirkland version.  It works great and did not cost $300, so I am doubly happy.  If you do not have a dutch oven, a good heavy pot will work and you can transfer it to a roasting pan with a lid before you put it in the oven.  Heat some veg oil over medium high heat.  Mix the flour and the seasoned salt together.  Toss the stew meat a few pieces at a time (probably do it in 3 batches) in the seasoned flour, shake of any excess and place in the hot oil, browning on all sides.  You want a nice dark color and crust on it.  Not burnt but good solid brown.  Remove the meat to a dish and repeat until all of the meat is done, adding more oil if needed.  Once all the meat is cooked, lower heat to just over medium, add another tbsp of oil and cook the onions until soft.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Add carrots, mushrooms and celery.  Cook 1-2 minutes and then add tomatoes, broth, water, oxo, worcestershire, balsamic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, hot sauce if you want ( I just do 3-4 dashes and it is not spicy, just some flavor) and return the meat and any juices that accumulated while resting.  Stir and make sure the meat is covered with liquid.  Cover with a tight lid and place in a 300F oven for at least 3 hours, removing lid with 1 hour remaining.  I usually turn the temp up to 325 when the lid is off to let the liquid reduce down and thicken.  If it is not thick enough at the end, stir together 1tbsp flour and 1.5 tbsp soft butter until smooth and add bits at a time to the stew, stirring thoroughly.  You may need more or less, depending on how much your stew has thickened.  
Serve over some creamy mashed potatoes (I like to stir in sour cream and some grated parmesan cheese into mine with butter and a little milk and salt and pepper, of course) and have a green vegetable and some salad on the side.  This will warm you up on these cold days and make you fall in love with stew again.  

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