A few posts back, I talked about Comfort Foods... Well this week I succumbed to another wintertime favourite - a rich and flavourful Beef Stew. The original recipe, called "STEW-pendous Beef" is from The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski.
I have made a few small changes to the recipe and will give it to you as I now do it. The original was done on top of the stove, I place mine in a large casserole and in the oven at 325°F. On a cold winter night, paired up with crusty bread or rolls and a green salad.. well it just doesn't get much better! A rich "gravy", chunky vegetables and French herbs combined with tasty beef ... a yummy aroma fills the house.
2 lbs. stewing beef, cut in 1"-1.5" cubes
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 Tblsp. olive oil
1.5 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence**
2.5 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
2 Tblsp. tomato paste
2 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 large potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled, cut into chunks
2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut in small chunks
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in small chunks
6-8 large button mushrooms, cut in quarters
2 Tblsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup frozen green peas
Pat beef dry with paper towels. and sprinkle lightly all over with seasoned salt. Heat 1 Tblsp. oil in non-stick pan or large pot over medium high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring until browned on all sides. Set aside if you're doing it all on stovetop, or place in large casserole if using oven.
Reduce heat to medium and add 1 Tblsp. oil to same pot; add onions celery and garlic, cook and stir until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Return beef to pot, and add Herbes de Provence, beef broth, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a bubbly boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, OR place all in a large covered casserole and into 325°F oven for same amount of time.
Stir in white potatoes and carrots, continue to simmer or bake for another 25 minutes. Then add sweet potatoes and mushrooms, simmer or bake for another 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Mix cornstarch with 2 Tblsp. water until smooth. Stir into stew, mix well. Continue to cook a few minutes until bubbly and thickened. Stir in peas and cook another 2-3 minutes until peas are heated through. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serves 5-6.
**Herbes de Provence is an herb blend that you'll likely find at the grocery store where you buy all your dried herbs. It is a combination of herbs commonly used in southern France: basil, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme and lavender.
What's your favourite comfort food?
"If they like it, it serves four. Otherwise, six." ~ Elsie Zussman