Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cold Weather Beef Stew

Beef stew

It's really been a while, I know. I didn't mean to leave you guys for so long. But our days here have a different rhythm now, with nursery rhymes, playdates and little shoes, sticky kisses and bedtime stories and all the magic that a little cheeky monkey has brought to our little family. I haven't wanted to miss a second, and to be honest, cooking for us has taken a backseat. Instead of dreaming up new recipes, I've been dreaming up purple elephants, orange penguins, or just plain dreaming. Lately, though, with the weather inevitably turning frosty and the farmers' markets being denuded of their summertime produce, the kitchen has been calling me, pulling me like a magnet, urging me to fill the house with warmth and lovely smells. I first answered the call with this beef stew and once we mmmm-ed over it, I knew I had to come here and tell you about it.

Usually, I don't like recipes with "old-time" in the title because, well, it seems to promise so much, doesn't it? Like, here is a recipe that your grandmother probably made, that will connect you heart and soul to generations of the past, that won't overwhelm you with fancy ingredients or techniques, that will be simple, and hearty, and most of all, really really good. I'm happy to tell you that this recipe does not disappoint. It's exactly what it looks like on paper, but oh, oh the taste is so much more complex that you would expect by just looking at the ingredient list. Yes, there is the old time quality, and there is the beautiful simplicity, and there are layers of smells and flavors and textures. It's like a warm, comfortable sweater that you put on while sipping a glass of wine by the fireplace on a chilly night. I like that and I will be making this stew again throughout the winter months.

Old-Time Beef Stew
Paula Dean

2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
1 lb potatoes (my own addition, but really good)
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots, celery and potatoes chopped into chunks. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer (mine took another hour until the carrots and the potatoes were fully cooked through). To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.


Helene said...

Beef stew is comfort food. We like it when it's cold outside.

Ellen said...

Welcome back :)

El said...

It's so nice to have you back. This looks like a perfect winter dish.

Jane said...

It's wonderful to hear from you again! Welcome back. It sounds like you are having an absolutely wonderful time as a mom.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh YUM! I have been craving stew for days. I am so happy that I came acorss this post! I have to make me a
dish of it right away...seriously. Thanks for the post!

Kimberly said...

I gave you an award on my blog. I've made your strawberry scones so many times...they're divine!

Jeane M. said...

Talk about hearty comfort food, beef stew in the table count me in. :) Can't wait to try out this one. Got my eye on your next posts.