Guess I wasn’t quite done with the hearty, one-pot meals yet.
The advent of winter, Love Actually, and I bring you the culmination of cold weather flavors into a satisfying and veggie-filled meal: classic beef stew.
I didn’t do a single fancy thing to this recipe. There’s no bitter chocolate, freshly grated nutmeg, or a single exotic vegetable to be found. There’s not even any wine involved…in the actual pot. However, I think we all know by this point that I firmly believe that a glass or two of wine consumed while cooking seriously enhances flavor.
(Or something like that).
So if you need a warm bowl of stew so you can snuggle up under a blanket with your honey and watch The Office (megadesk, anyone?), then this is for you.
Classic Beef Stew (serves 4-6)
- 1- 1 1/2 lbs beef roast (cut into small cubes)
- 3-4 T all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic (I had one gigantic clove–or megaclove!)
- 1 onion, diced
- 8 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4-5 stalks celery, diced
- 6-8 small red potatoes, quartered
- 1 C frozen peas
- 2 T tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 C chicken broth (I use low-sodium when I can)
- salt and pepper to taste
A good-sized list of ingredients, but nothing too unexpected.
I decided to make this in the Crock Pot for the sake of time, but you could easily make it in heavy pot or dutch oven.
To start, heat the oil in a over medium-high heat until shimmering. Coat the diced steak in the flour (I shake it together in a bag), then quickly brown it on all sides for a few minutes, adding the salt.
This gets a nice base flavor and pretty color–and the added flour will thicken your stew later, so no need to add in flour or cornstarch at the end.
Toss the meat into the lightly oiled Crock Pot with the onion and garlic.
Top with the carrots, celery, and potatoes.
Follow with the peas, bay leaves, tomato paste, and a hearty dose of black pepper–though you could add the pepper later if you want to be more subtle with it. Pour the chicken broth (clearly you could use beef broth as well–I just think beef broth always tastes metallic) over the top, stir, and cover.
Cook on low for the shorter setting. I think my Crock Pot is six hours (could I get up and check? Yes. Will I? No). The meat will be tender, the carrots sweet, and potatoes warm and melt-in-your-mouth.
I’ve been cooking with the Crock Pot a lot lately since twice a week I work from noon to eight. The morning off gives me time to put everything together, and then Fritz gets to come home a warm meal even when I’m not there.
Works really well for me, except that I fear he’s starting to associate the days I’m not home with better food.
“Better food” for Fritz means: ready as soon as he sets foot in the door, involving meat with a sauce, and served in a single dish.
“Better food” for Lauren: served with wine.
“Better food” for Henry: anything. Including but not limited to the velcro attached to any electronic device, BROCCOLI, Fritz’s ankles, and my yoga mats.
Is that a guilty face or what?