Friday, December 23, 2011

Traditional Beef Stew

Beef Stew was one of those things we rarely had growing up. My Witchy Sisters and I LOVED the canned Dinty Moore Beef Stew (sacrilege I know) until my parents freaked me out one day by saying they didn't know what kind of meat it was in the stew, it could be tongue or something like that. And in my oh so mature 13 year old mind I said "EW!!" and abandon the canned beef stew entirely. Not a bad thing necessarily! So, after I was completely grossed out about canned beef stew, I still had a beef stew jones that needed to be satisfied. I asked, begged even, my mother to make stew for us. Being a wonderful mom she did; however being a fairly lousy cook, it was 'Stew Starter' beef stew. Anyone remember this stuff? A paper canister filled with dehydrated veggies and flavors, a seasoning packet filled with salt and chemicals, just add water and beef and in 4 brief hours, voila, stew. Ish. Stew-ish is exactly what this was. The broth was thin and insipid, not rich and hearty. The beef was tough and chewy - obviously the wrong cut was used. The veggies were still slightly firm from the dehydration/rehydration process and lacked any nutritional value or flavor. Sure the canister says Stew Starter but man, what a disappointment. Finally the Witch said enough is enough and learned how to make beef stew. Real beef stew!

The stew I offer to you all today is quite possibly one of the best beef stews the Kitchen Witch has ever created. The beef is fall apart tender and oh so flavorful. The veggies have texture and flavor, all of which enhance the stew. Herbs are used sparingly, just enough to add the sweet perfume but not enough to overwhelm the rich brown gravy. Like most soups, this stew if very forgiving and accepting of pretty much any veggie you want to offer it. I kept it traditional with carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and peas. The gravy gets some extra rich flavor from the use of mushroom base, a product that the fine folks at Better than Bullion produce. It's basically concentrated mushroom soup in a jar, all natural and organic to boot! It adds a great depth of flavor with out any visual mushrooms, a great way to get that flavor in when you have mushroom haters around. The use of it isn't required but it will make your dish that much better. If you can't find it you can always sautee up some mushrooms and add them to the stew.

When beef stew is done properly it's as warm and comforting as a hand knitted sweater or a hug from your Mom. Since I'm the worlds laziest knitter, consider this my knitted sweater to you. I hope it keeps you warm and comfortable. Enjoy!

Traditional Beef Stew
Makes 6-8 servings
1 three (3) pound chuck roast, cut into 1.5 inch cubes, excess fat trimmed
6 carrots cut into rounds
3 stalks celery, diced fine
1/2 onion sliced thin
4 cloves garlic minced fine
3 sprigs thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
6-7 cups water
1 T Mushroom base (Better than Bouillon) - optional
3/4 c red wine (shiraz is fine)
1/3 c frozen peas
9-10 small red bliss potatoes, cut into quarters
salt and pepper to taste
3T corn starch
2T oil

Cut the meat into cubes and pat dry.  Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil.  Once hot brown the cubed beef in 3 batches.  Brown beef aggressively, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Once browned remove from pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Repeat until all meat is browned.

In the same pan add the onions, carrots, garlic and celery.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the onions start to brown and soften.  Add the water and mushroom base, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add meat, herbs and wine, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Cover stew and simmer on medium low for 1 hour.

Stir stew.  Taste for season.  Please note that the stew is NOT done and this is NOT a final season, it's merely a chance to add more salt if need be, or if it's too salty, a touch more water to dilute things a bit.  Adjust seasoning as needed, recover stew and continue cooking for another hour.

Stir stew.  Add the potatoes, recover and simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 min stir the stew and taste for season.  Make a slurry of the cornstarch and about 2-3T of water and add to the stew, stirring well while adding to avoid lumps.  Allow stew to simmer for another 15 minutes before serving and enjoying.

Nutrition Factscalculated by SparkPeople Recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 508.7
Total Fat 12.7 g
Saturated Fat 4.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.5 g
Cholesterol 126.4 mg
Sodium 643.2 mg
Potassium 1,754.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 50.8 g
Dietary Fiber 7.1 g
Sugars 5.0 g
Protein 42.8 g


Big Dude said...

I also liked Dinty Moore as a kid - amazing how much my tastes have changed over the years. I love beef stew and yours sounds awesome and will be tried.

Julia said...

Yep, I can be included on the list of kids who liked canned beef stew, and canned chili, with beans. That stuff was like my fave! Just this morning I put beef stew in the crockpot and the things I randomly threw in are very similar to your recipe. Yea, now Ill just stare at your blog post all day dreaming of dinner... So clearly I've grown out of my canned stew phase.

Yenta Mary said...

Beef stew is one of the great things in the universe - hearty, substantial, warm, comforting, nutritious ... beef stew has got it all!!! This looks fabulous!

Foodycat said...

A good beef stew is a thing of great beauty! I love the sound of that mushroom base stuff, I hope that comes to the UK.

Michelle J said...

Dang you, lady! I always leave this site hungry! ;)

Jenn said...

When I was a kid I would rather be sent to my room with no dinner than eat beef stew!! lol As I got older and went camping more frequently, Dinty Moore actually become a favorite - my mom would be so proud of me if I made this recipe!! lol

Merry Christmas to you and Brian and Caity! Hope Santa is good to you all! xoxo

StephenC said...

A good beef stew is a wondrous thing. This one seems to fit that bill.

Cranberry Morning said...

I am so sorry to hear that your childhood included Dinty Moore!! But your stew recipe looks great. I love to make a good and hearty beef stew in the winter months. Makes the whole house smell wonderful for hours, besides the satisfaction of such a tasty and filling dinner!

anthony stemke said...

A great stew here.
I wonder if your mom and mine went to the same school

Words Of Deliciousness said...

There is nothing better on a cold day than a delicious beef stew. Your beef stew sounds delicious!
Wishing you a Happy Holiday season!

baking4GEM said...

Your blog reminds me of my beef stew that cooked yesterday for the family and sets me thinking i should make another batch to freeze so that i have beef stew when i want it :)

Merry Christmas to you and family from humid and wet Singapore

Jenna said...

At what point do you put the meat back into the pan?

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