September 21, 2011

FOOTBALL GRUB: beef stew!

Posted by Ethne~

I made beef stew Sunday for dinner after football-watching.  Let me tell you, I’ve just been in a crazy mood for soups these past couple of weekends.

You’ll need:

2 cups carrots (I used the pre-sliced for ease)
2 cups celery (I didn’t have, so I used zucchini cubes instead), sliced
3-4 large potatoes, cubed
2 cups frozen peas
2 med-large onions, chopped
1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 can tomato paste (I used a few scoops of my homemade tomato sauce instead)
1 large flank steak cubed into bite-size pieces
4-8 beef bouillon cubes
Flour (a few tablespoons)
Salt and pepper
1-2 cups dry red wine

First, I drizzled my pan with olive oil and set it to medium heat.  I put in my meat cubes, salted and peppered them, then shook on the couple of tablespoons of flour.  I sautéed them until they were browned, but being cooked through wasn’t essential.  Toss ‘em into the crock pot.

Browned steak chunks and raw carrot slices
(that red sauce is the little bit of tomato soup leftover from lunch)

I next put a little more olive oil in the same pan (don’t rinse it out) and put in my onion and mushrooms.  You could sauté your carrots in here too, but I didn’t.  Saute until the mushrooms and onions start to wilt a little (release some of their juices) and pour in the red wine. This should cause some sizzle and loosen up the flour and beef bits. Bubble this around for a few minutes until all the bits are scraped off the bottom of the pan.  Pour this all into the crock pot.

Lightly sauteed onion and mushroom - I added a little sprinkle
of flour for thickening (do this for the meat for sure); see the beef
bits on the sides of the pan?  That's the GOOD stuff.
Eyeballing the red wine pourage
The insta-sizzle of the wine (called deglazing) loosens
up those tasty bits of beef on the bottom and sides of the pan

Throw in the zucchini and carrot and potato cubes.  Dump in the broth and tomato paste/sauce.

Got a bit of a glare off the zucchini!

Liberally salt and pepper, stir around a couple of times and set your crock pot on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours (depending on when you are doing this and when you plan on eating).

Adding some mega flavor

I tasted every hour or so to check the salt factor.  I ended up adding in more salt, then the beef bouillon cubes until I liked the flavor.

When your veggies are cooked, add the peas. 

When the peas are cooked through (they don’t need to be mush), determine if you like the consistency.  I consider stew to be thick and I determined at this point that it wasn’t stew-y enough.  The flour you put on the beef at the beginning should help thicken, but if you still want your stew thicker, stir a couple tablespoons of flour or corn starch in a cup of water till it’s all dissolved, then stir it around in the stew.  Keep stirring for a minute or two and you’ll see the consistency thicken.  Do this till it’s the consistency you want.

Serve with bread or on its own.

Happy stew faces...
...all the way around the table. 

NOTE:  While Shaun and the girls ate this stew quite well, Shaun figures I didn’t do it justice by adding zucchini.  He just said it made it all wrong.  He said “any red-blooded American wouldn’t add zucchini to beef stew.”  I figure he’s wrong because I’m a red-blooded American and I did it.  Friends, add it if you want, I’ll say it’s good either way (and excellent my way).

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