I am freezing. All. The. Time. I wear scarves in the house.
Scarves, people! It’s tragic.
Being cold makes me want two things more than anything (barring Spring, of course): a fireplace with the prerequisite hot chocolate and stew. But it can’t be just any stew; it has to be a put-meat-on-your-bones, rich-like-our-farming-ancestors-used-to-make-it stew. This heritage Beef-Vegetable Stew is both of those things.
This is a rich, hearty, feed your soul type of stew. It is packed with tender meat, turnips, carrots, and potatoes. You’ll want to make sure to serve it with bread so that you can soak up every last drop.
I found a recipe for Beef-Vegetable Soup in my Better Homes and Gardens Heritage Cookbook, which you will remember from my Beef Stroganoff post. They reprinted the original recipe from the hand-written Monroe Family Cook Book. I can only assume they mean President James Monroe.
But…I couldn’t resist adding just a little something. Hint: It’s the wine! The American colonists didn’t really cook with wine in the 1700’s, but it really intensifies the flavors of the stew and allows you to get all the yummy browned-meat goodness from the bottom of the pan after deglazing.
My Husband abhors thin stews. He firmly believes that if you call it a stew then it needs to be thick, and I have to agree with him. I was in the kitchen trying to get this stew to cook down to an acceptable consistency when my Husband meanders in to check on dinner (i.e. find out when dinner would be ready).
I complain to him of my problem and say that my Mom would simply add potato flakes to thicken it, but I don’t have any of those. He looks at the thin stew and then at the loaf of Irish Soda Bread fresh from the oven and suggests thickening it with some bread. Sometimes the man is such a culinary genius!
So he rips off a hunk and just tosses it in. It’s comical now but at the time I was horrified! “You couldn’t have crumbled it first?!” I admonished him. “It’ll be fine; you’ll see,” he smirks as he takes the spoon from my outstretched hand.”
This is a rich, hearty, feed your soul type of stew. It is packed with tender meat, turnips, carrots, and potatoes. You want to make sure you serve it with bread so that you can soak up every last drop.
2 lbs beef (I used chuck shoulder – just make sure it is a lean, inexpensive cut)
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons salted butter
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ tablespoons garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh if you prefer)
½ cup celery leaves
½ cup parsley, coarsely chopped
2 turnips, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup onion, diced
2 small red potatoes, cubed
½ teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried currants (optional)
fist sized hunk of soda bread or potato flakes to thicken
Dry beef cubes on paper towels and then place in a medium bowl. I like to cut my own meat for stew so that the pieces are uniform and cook evenly.
Combine flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle half the mixture over the beef, toss to coat. Sprinkle the remaining over the meat, toss to coat evenly.
Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until it is searing hot. Working in batches, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add about 1/3 of the flour-coated beef. Do not crowd the beef or it will steam instead of brown, and nobody wants that.
Once you have browned all the meat, sauté the onions and the garlic until the onions are translucent and begin to brown. Pour in the wine. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot with a flat, wooden spoon making sure to get up any browned bits! Let the wine boil for about two minutes, stirring constantly.
Return the meat to the pot, stir in parsley, celery leaves, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook and stir mixture for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Stir in 5 cups of water or enough to cover all meat. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Add carrots, turnips, onion, potatoes, paprika, pepper and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer until meat and vegetables are tender and potatoes are beginning to fall apart, about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. If your meat is not yet tender, continue to simmer in additional 15 minute increments until it falls apart.
Remove bay leaves and add your soda bread or potato flakes, and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.
You can head over to The Kitchn to read more about choosing the right cut of beef for your stew, because it will make all the difference in the world! Promise.