Monday, March 25, 2013

Hearty Beef Stew


Winter just will not quit.  Supposedly we're getting some more snow today.  For a winter season that was slow to start, it's proved to hit New England with a vengeance in February and March.  I'm just hoping we don't get another April Fool's storm like we did a few years ago.  The moral of this story?  Even though it's technically spring, it's still the season for comfort food and this stew is exactly that.  I almost named this CSA Stew since it's chock full of beef, red and yellow potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and onions from a recent farm box.  And can we talk about how good the house smells while this cooks?   I put it on in the morning and when I came home from work, I couldn't get over how amazing and inviting the scents from the kitchen were as they wafted through the house.  Thick, perfectly seasoning, and probably the most delicious way to get your veggies, this stew will help you forget about the remaining foot of snow in your yard.  And warm you up from the frigid winds and cold night temperatures.  At least for a little while.

This recipe comes from Rachael at Movita Beaucoup, who lives in Nova Scotia so knows a thing or two about lingering winters.  I'm usually not a fan of the "cook before crock potting" recipes, but browning the beef helps give it a little definition of flavor so when it gets all tender after cooking, there is still the flavor of having been seared.  Plus you get all those tasty pan drippings to add to the pot.  The carrots from my CSA were massive (seriously huge), so I only used two, but then decided to add in two parsnips.  I mixed red and yellow potatoes and ended up only using just over a pound of meat (since my package from the farm wasn't marked and I failed to defrost another package).  It totally worked and Dave I both felt there was plenty of beef texture and flavor.  Thickened up before serving and served with crusty bread, you'll love this stew.  No matter what the weather decides to do. 


Hearty Beef Stew


Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut to 1 inch cubes
28 ounces canned whole tomatoes
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped (not pictured)
2-3 pounds small potatoes, cut in half or quarters
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3 cups beef broth, divided
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef and lightly brown in batches.  Set aside on a plate.



Add tomatoes and liquid to a 6 quart crock pot.  Using a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, smash the tomatoes.  Note: These guys squirt back, so press gently!


Add the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and potatoes.  Then season with Italian seasoning, add beef and the pan drippings from cooking the beef.  Stir to combine.



Add 2 1/2 cups of beef broth and stir, then toss in bay leaves.


Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.


Twenty minutes before serving, stir in peas, salt and pepper.  Make a paste with the remaining 1/2 cup of broth and the flour.  Stir into stew to thicken, replace cover, and cook on low for 20 minutes.




To serve, remove bay leaves and ladle into bowls.  Serve with crusty bread.


Makes 6-8 servings.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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