Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rainy Afternoon Beef Stew

It stormed all afternoon today, an odd occurrence for end of March in the Sunshine State. Also, my fiancé is sick and I didn’t feel like messing with a lot of pots and pans to make dinner tonight. Rain makes me feel sluggish, lazy and also makes me crave the comfort foods of my childhood. Therefor, I made a big steamy pot of stew for dinner, and paired it with a lovely loaf of Cuban bread (soft and chewy with a nice crust) and some salted cream butter.

I love making soups and stews because all you really need is one large pot, a knife and a cutting board.

I went to our local meat market and found the most beautiful cuts of stew beef. Stew beef is chunks of the tougher parts of the cow, such as the leg, shoulder, and butt, that become super tender and buttery when you slow cook them. In the supermarket, this cut of meat may also be called chuck, and beef for stew. Most supermarkets will have it already shrink-packaged and cut into bite-sized chunks, but if you are unsure, definitely ask your butcher! And remember: If there's no butcher, don't buy from there!

Rainy Afternoon Beef Stew
Serves 6-8

You will need:
1 to 2 pounds stew beef
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil (I used olive but vegetable would be fine as well)
3 cups cold water
1 package Beef Stew seasoning pack (optional)
5 cups vegetables such as mushrooms, celery, carrots, potatoes, and onion, cut into quarters.
Wash and cut all the vegetables into quarters. Make sure the stew beef is cut into small cubes and not huge chunks.

Heat a large soup pot with the oil.

Salt and pepper the beef, then dredge in the flour. Add the garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pot, and sauté until all sides are brown.

Add the 3 cups of water, and seasoning pack (if using) and stir, paying careful attention to anything sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Bring to a boil, then drop the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (you will add the veggies later).

Add the vegetables, stir and cook for another 45 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Serve with buttered bread or crackers. Leftovers will store refrigerated for 1 week, frozen indefinitely.

Simple, delicious, done!

What is your favorite meal on a rainy day?


Shauna AKA, The College Gastronome

Quick and Dirty Q&A with TCG

Why do I need to dredge the beef in flour? Doesn't that seem like an unnecessary extra step?

Dredging the beef in flour and sauteing it in a little fat (oil) helps to create a mini roux that thickens the stew later when the water is added. Skipping this step would cause you to have more of a brothy soup than a thick, rich stew.

Why should/shouldn't I use a packet of beef stew seasoning?

I am a huge advocate of short cuts that will make things tastier. A beef seasoning packet will add so much extra flavor to your meal. They contain salt, pepper, dried herbs, garlic, beef seasoning and also cornstarch for a little extra thickness. If you want to omit this, the stew will taste just as good but I definitely recommend adding extra salt and pepper, and maybe even a little garlic and onion powder as well.

Questions? Comment below! XOXO

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pizza for dessert???

In an epic combination of creativity and "inspiration", this happened:

Much thanks to Nicole Miller over at Evict These Words for the excellent night. Recipe to follow and new posts to begin next Sunday!