Backgrounds & Polka Dot Backgrounds

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Comfort in a Bowl: Beef Stew

When I was a kid, my Gramma did a lot of the cooking in our house. To this day, all my favorite foods are ones that she made when I was a child. They remind me of her (she passed away in 2008) and home and they make me smile. As a child, beef stew wasn't anything special. However, as I've grown up and ordered it at various restaurants, I've discovered that it was unbelievably special, and difficult to replicate. I thought I knew how to make it: beef in flour, add carrots, onions, potatoes, and water. Cook for what seems like an eternity. WRONG. Sound bland? It is. Much to my amazement, when I went to make this after she died, I didn't know how! So over the last few years, it has been my mission to figure out how to make it delicious again. And I did it! Thanks to a pot roast recipe from the cookbook that came with my Crock-Pot, I have been able to change it up into some AMAZING stew. Ready to be comforted into a warm, happy place?

First, a note about the recipe. It's less a recipe and more like a big pot of whatever you want it to be. Aside (that's a word right?) from being SUPER delish, it's SUPER economical. You can make this stew go a LONG (are the random CAP words getting annoying? I swear I'd yell these at you if we were talking face to face:) way. Just over a pound of stew made at least six servings, and I fill my bowl to the top. I'm not a fan of potatoes in my stew so I leave them out, but my Gramma always put them in, and your stew will go even farther with potatoes in it.

Start with stew meat. Like I said, I used about 1 1/4 pounds of meat. The way stew meat comes at the store, it's in large chunks. I cut my down to bite sized pieces.

Mix about 1/2 cup of flour in a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Toss the stew meat to coat.

Add a few tablespoons of oil to a dutch oven or stock pot. Once the oil is hot, add the beef. Cook until brown. You aren't trying to cook the meat, just to brown the outside. While browning meat, dice one large onion and 1lb. of carrots.

Once meat is brown, add in onions and carrots. Then add spices. I probably (this is all to taste folks, stew should be made how you like it, so taste, taste, taste!) use two teaspoons seasoned salt, 2 tablespoons of dried parsley, and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder. Now comes the stars! Crushed (if you use whole it is pokey to eat!) Rosemary and Ground Thyme. I have discovered some in my family do not like one or the other, I love both in my stew and on my roasts. I use about a teaspoon of each.

Sprinkle a generous half cup of flour in the pot.

Stir this in really well and let cook for a minute. It's very important there is no visable flour left or your stew will have flour chunks in it. Ew! It should look like this.

Add in about six cups of water. More if you have more meat or want it to go farther.

Put a lid on this and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 to scrap the bottom and keep from burning. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 2-3 hours. If you're adding potatoes, put them in about 30-45 minutes before serving.

The thickness of stew is a personal preference, and I like it be a lot closer to a solid than a liquid. Typically, I find the flour added in the first stage is not sufficient to make my stew thick enough. About halfway through cooking, if it isn't thickening up as I like, I use an old trick my Grandma Annette taught me. I wish I had taken pictures!
Put about half a cup of flour in a shallow tupperware bowl. Add in COLD water to the bowl, just enough to cover the flour, and place lid on tightly. Over the sink (you'll regret this if you do it elsewhere) and holding the bowl upside down with lid securely in the palm of your hands, holding tightly, shake vigourously until all the flour dissolves in the water. It definitely helps to use clear tupperware. Add this to your stew, stir and it will thicken up in no time. If it isn't thick enough, add more flour/water mixture. This little trick works on any kind of gravy (I use it for Sausage gravy all the time!). 

If you're vegetarian or are cooking for one, use mushrooms instead of the beef. I think this would turn on quite well although I've never tried it. The main thing to remember with beef stew is that you should taste as you go and use ingredients you like. This is a very basic recipe that  you can use to tailor to your likings!

Serve with homeade biscuits and Enjoy!


PS. This last pic does not do the stew justice! Looking for a new camera, any suggestions??

No comments:

Post a Comment