Saturday, December 5, 2009

Beef Stew Makes a Heart Happy

At the beginning of this week, there's nothing I wanted more than some good old fashioned comfort food. And what fits the bill better than Mom's beef stew? While I did stray a little from my Mom's recipe, the wonderful, hearty, beefy spirit of the thing was still there. In fact, John said it was the best stew I had ever made. Holla!

So what, you want details?

I first have to warn you that when a dish I make comes from my Mom, I'm not going to be able to quote exact measurements. Unless she's making her famous cookies, there's no "cup" or "ounce" or "tablespoon" to be found. So when I'm giving you these instructions, just do what seems right to you in terms of measurements. Helpful, no?

- 1.5 pounds stew beef
- flour
- butter and olive oil
- red wine
- beef stock
- carrots
- onions
- garlic
- potatoes
- parsley
- rosemary
- salt and pepper

1. Start by coating the stew beef in a little bit of flour. The easiest way is the "shake in a bag" method. I also like to cut some of larger pieces of beef slightly smaller, since the pieces they give you in the store tend to be kind of gigantic.

2. In the largest pan you have, swirl in some extra virgin olive oil and a few pats of butter. Don't be shy, lube that pan up! When the pan is hot and the butter is melted, drop in your floured beef and brown it - a lot. Don't worry if it seems like you're browning it too much, or if there are bits sticking to the pan - the bits are your friend, we'll take care of those later.

3. When your beef is well browned, add about a cup of beef stock and a cup of red wine. Simmer your liquids for a few minutes, then add chopped onion, garlic and about 2 sprigs of rosemary. (Don't worry about chopping the rosemary. It will fall right off the sprigs as the stew cooks. Just remember to take the sprigs out before serving.) Add salt and pepper. Simmer for a half hour. While simmering scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

4. Add chopped potatoes and carrots. I used 5 larg-ish, peeled red bliss potatoes and about 7 carrots, peeled and cut on a bias.

5. Cook on medium low heat, at least until the potatoes and carrots are tender, but you can let it go as long as you can stand not to eat it! Again, salt and pepper liberally. Add additional beef stock as needed - the longer you cook, the thicker this is going to get. That part is a personal preference. We like our stew really thick, other people like a soupier stew. Oh, and don't forget to pull out those rosemary sprigs!

Ta da! I served the stew with some flaky biscuits, and for John, cheddar cheese. We could not stop making yummy noises while eating this. And the best part is, it reheats beautifully. Just add a little more stock and microwave.

Don't you feel better already?

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