Beef Stew

Another day, another stew. I promise you I have some recipes that don’t require beef stock and a spoon coming soon…

But not today. Today I’m going to belly flop into another one of my favorite fall dishes: Beef Stew. Growing up I loved this meal with the exception of one major component: The stew meat. I am just about the furthest thing away from a vegetarian, but I almost considered eating my stew sans the stew meat.

Then, the light bulb turned on. You know what other meal I love? Pot Roast. Pot Roast & Beef Stew have similar qualities, so I decided to marry the two and it is one of my prouder decisions in my 26 years of life.

This particular day, due to time restraints, I started my Pot Roast in the crock pot before coming home and transferring it to my dutch oven. I don’t love crock pots (have you NOT seen “This is us?!”) I’m not only afraid of starting a massive house fire. I’m also, just maybe, a teeeeeeny tiny bit OCD and need to tend to/check on/taste my food every three seconds. If you’re not quite as controlling as I am, you can most certainly cook this entire Pot-Roast-Stew in your crock pot. Just add everything below to your slow cooker (instead of a dutch oven) and cook on low heat for 8 hours.

My favorite thing about stews & soups is that they are so dang “busy-parent” friendly. You can prep all your peeling and chopping of vegetables the night before, you can throw everything in a slow cooker and “set it & forget it,” you can freeze portions & thaw them for a cook-free weeknight dinner.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4-5 pound Pot Roast
  • 1 – 12 oz. can of Beer (I used an Oktoberfest)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of Butter
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 – 6 oz. can of Tomato Paste
  • 1 – 32 oz. carton of low-sodium Beef Stock
  • 2 medium Red Onions, quartered or one bag of frozen White Pearl Onions
  • 4-5 medium Red Potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 4 Carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 3 stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen Peas
  • 3 fresh Bay Leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Thickening Agent (corn starch, flour, arrowroot powder) + water
    • You can change the amounts of vegetables for your family’s preference (i.e. if you’re a big potato guy, but hate onions – alter the recipe to fit you!)

 

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  • Place your Pot Roast at the bottom of your slow cooker along with the half of the onions, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire, 1 can of beer, bay leafs, garlic, & thyme. Cover your crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.

*This is when I transfered mine to a dutch oven for a more controlled cook. if you prefer to finish yours in the slow cooker, just add all remaining ingredients and cook for an additional 4 hours on low heat.

  • Carefully remove your pot roast from the slow cooker and place into your dutch oven. Pour remaining contents on top.
  • Add 32 ounces of beef stock, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery,  and parsley.
  • Dump in your can of tomato paste and stir well. Cover your dutch oven and let simmer on low heat for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

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  • After three hours have passed, carefully remove your pot roast from your stew. Using a fork, shred apart (this should be very easy, if not place pot roast back in dutch oven and continue to simmer). After you’ve shredded the entire roast, add it back into the vessel.

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  • Add 1 tablespoon of thickening agent (I use arrowroot powder) to 1/2 cup of cold water, whisk until dissolved. While stirring your stew, add mixture slowly. Continue until you reach desired consistency.
  • Lastly, I’ll add in peas. I let these thaw on the countertop for a few hours. This is always my last step because frozen peas can become overcooked and mushy very easily.
  • Cover your dutch oven and let simmer for 1 additional hour.

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  • Your Pot-Roast-Stew is ready to enjoy and I just know that you’re going to love it!

Bon Appétit!

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French Onion Soup

Ah, French Onion Soup. There’s something about the simplicity in this tasty staple that makes it even more satisfying. When Monday through Friday we’re all running around, balancing life and our nine to five’s, we can find comfort in those dinners that just require a few ingredients and roughly 20 minutes of our time. From the buttery-garlicky onion aroma to the top layer of golden-brown-delicious provolone cheese. These “good to the last slurp” components are what keep us coming back for seconds.

When preparing my French Onion Soup, I prefer to use a variety of different onions, rather than just one type. I always suggest using fresh herbs, as it will really give you the depth of flavor you’re looking for in those broth-based meals. I’m a big fan of reducing with wine (wine makes everything better). Although there are no rules to cooking, I typically will use red wines for “brown” broths and white wines for lighter ones (i.e. chicken & fish dishes). However, whatever you have uncorked from the night before will work beautifully. I’ll often reduce with beer, too (same concept – anything you have on hand will work). Experimentation is half the fun! Do yourself a flavor and do not skip the butter. Bulking season is upon us, ladies and gentleman. Slab some butter on the bottom of your dutch oven, put on some stretchy pants and love yourself.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Stick Butter (I prefer salted butter)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • Thyme
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • Parsley
  • 2 Large Red Onions
  • 2 Large Sweet Vidalia Onions
  • Worcestershire Sauce (who else relies on spellcheck for this? asking for a friend…)
  • 1 Cup of Red Wine (or “last nights” bottle)
  • 4 Cups of Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 4 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • French Baguette
  • Provolone Cheese (Gruyere & Swiss work nicely, too…)

Pairs well with:

  • Malbec or Cabernet
  • Chardonnay
  • IPA’s

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  • Begin by gathering and preparing all of your ingredients prior to beginning the actual cooking process. By doing this, it will prevent scrambling for something last minute while the garlic and butter are burning on the stove.
  • Divide your butter into sections (just to help the melting process) and slab into your dutch oven or soup pot (not yet turned on). Listen, butter is my religion and margarine is the devil. However, if you absolutely must….please just don’t tell me.
  • Mince your garlic cloves and chop your parsley. Add them to your cooking vessel, along with the 3 bay leaves and thyme. Turn your stove on low and cover pot.

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  • While your butter is melting, begin to peel and chop your onions. I prefer to quarter my onions and from there, slice them thinly.
    • Helpful hint: Coming from the queen of clumsiness, make sure the onion your cutting is ALWAYS flat side down. (i.e. do not ever try cutting anything round without first cutting it in half. Round things roll. Round things that roll while you are using a chef’s knife result in 9 fingers instead of 10.)

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  • Toss those babies into your dutch oven. Stir them, ensuring an even coating of butter. At this point, I like to grind some pepper on top before covering. Increase stove temperature to medium-low, pour yourself a drink, and relax for the next 20 or so minutes. Put your glass down every so often to give those buttery onions a stir.french-onion-soup_onions.png
  • After about 20 minutes, or when the onions have cooked down to a clear, caramel color – stir well, ensuring you scrap up all the brown bits from the side of the pot (those brown bits are your flavor enhancers.) Add a few hearty dashes of Worcestershire and 1 cup of your preferred alcohol (I used Malbec, since that’s what I had opened.)
    • No pressure to use any alcohol at all during cooking. If you prefer not to, simply skip this step.
  • Over medium heat, stir and then let the onions cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine starts reducing.

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  • After the wine has reduced, add your 4 cups of beef broth, followed by your 4 cups of vegetable broth. I prefer low-sodium because broth can get very salty, very fast. I would rather add my own salt to taste once the soup is complete.
  • Raise heat to a simmer and let cook for at least 30 minutes.
  • While the soup is simmering, grab your French Baguette (or whatever the heck kind of bread you like. There’s also ZERO shame in using croutons. zip, zero, zilch.) Slice your bread, toss with some olive oil and seasonings in a bowl.
    • I seasoned my homemade “croutons” with garlic powder, salt & pepper, fresh parsley and thyme.
  • Once tossed, lay them out on a baking sheet (non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper make for easy clean-up) and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350° or until desired golden-brown-crispiness (leave the oven on.)

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  • You can get as fancy as you desire with your cheese options. Go to the cheese connoisseur in your market and they can lead you to some beautiful Gruyere & Provolone. OR you can be like me and go to the deli counter and ask for a half pound of whatever’s on sale. No matter the cheese, it’s going to be delicious.
  • Once the soup has finished simmering, begin ladelling it into ramekins or oven-safe bowls. Send the croutons for a swim and layer the top with a blanket of cheese.

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  • With your oven still heated at 350°, place the ramekins of soup onto the baking sheet you used for the croutons (this will prevent any drippings or melted cheese from falling to the bottom of your oven and setting those dang smoke detectors off.)
  • Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and let bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. My husband and I prefer our cheese a little crispy, so I’ll turn the broiler on high for a few minutes. If you choose to broil your soup:
    • Check the soup frequently, those suckers can go from zero to burnt in a matter of seconds.
    • This significantly increases the temperature of both the soup and its’ vessel. Proceed with caution and as Mom always says, “blow on it first, honey.”

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I hope you give it a try and most importantly, I hope you love it!