Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The BEST beef stew

So it's been a while! I may be a slacker in the blogging department, but let me tell you... life has been crazy. I'm a senior in college and have been taking 7 courses all semester (most college kids take 4 at once), so it's been a lot of work and not a lot of time for me to relax and pay attention to my creative side. This weekend marked the beginning of finals week, and I knew I needed some good food to help me write my 10 page essay. Something comforting, and there needed to be potatoes (because I love them!). I knew I needed beef stew. So those of you that live in warmer climates are probably thinking that I am NUTS! Why would I want to eat stew when it is warm out? Stew is for WINTER, you silly person! However, you have to remember that I live in New England. And it has been rainy and damp here for over a week. Right now it is 55 degrees and pouring, and it's not going to get any better for at least another week. Something warm and comforting was definitely needed.
Let me start out by saying that I've had bad experiences with beef stew in the past- tough meat, grainy-textured potatoes. I grew up thinking that I didn't even like beef stew. I finally had it when I stayed over at a friends house a few years back, and it was amazing. The potatoes were perfect, the meat was tender, and the broth was amazing. I scoured the internet, and finally settled on using a Paula Dean recipe for a guide, but added a few touches of my own. While this does take a while, most of the time is just letting things simmer, so you can just leave it be and go do something else for a while. If you're me, you'll get back to that paper you're writing. All of the simmering time is worth it though- I can honestly say that this is the best beef stew I've ever had. The meat becomes really tender, the vegetables are cooked to perfection, and the flavor of the broth is amazing. So if you're as chilly as I am right now, you may want to consider having this for dinner- it will warm you right up!

Old Time Beef Stew
Recipe adapted from Paul Dean
You will need:

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 boxes low or no sodium beef stock (that's 8 cups)
  • 1.5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 or 6 baby red potatoes, diced

Heat the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. I used my favorite dutch oven. Brown the beef on both sides (you're just browning it quickly- don't worry about it cooking through as that will happen when it simmers), then add the onions, worcestershire sauce, garlic, paprika, salt, sugar, pepper, onions, and beef stock. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours over low heat. 

Add carrots, celery, and potatoes. Cover and cook for another 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Serve and enjoy!

Yum- It was amazing! I hope that most of you are enjoying some nice weather. If not, make sure to cozy up and read a good book- that's my favorite way to spend a rainy afternoon!