Fall is stew weather

Our cooler evenings are an invitation to cook heartier meals. One such hearty dish is a classic beef stew. What makes a stew not a soup? They’re in the same family tree, but what sets them apart? Basically, there’s less liquid used in a stew and you always use flour to coat your stew meat.

We don’t want our finished product to be tough bites of beef. To prevent this, the best cuts of meat for stew are chuck, chuck shoulder, chuck roast, chuck-eye roast, top chuck, bottom round roast, bottom eye roast, rump roast, eye round roast, top round, round tip roast, English roast, and pot roast. Or, you can use the packaged stew meat for convenience, however it isn’t very select.

Begin this stew the night before, using a proper Dutch oven cooking vessel. Cast iron won’t be suitable. Something enameled or made of stainless steel works well. After cooking the beef, allow the hot saucepan with the seared beef to cool for 30 minutes, uncovered. Then cover the saucepan and place it in the refrigerator until ready to continue the cooking process the next day.

Even though the aroma of the cooking stew is tantalizing everyone; you don’t try to rush stew. It needs to cook slowly. It also needs to be watched attentively or you’ll have sticking (from the flour). Give it a stir every chance you get to keep it from getting muddled up. Stew is best served in a large, flat bowl instead of a plate, to keep the gravy contained.

Low-Fat Beef Stew

           Serves 4

2 lbs. boneless stewing beef, cubed into just under 1” cubes

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups beef broth, heated

3 cups red potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced

1 cup celery, chunked

4 ounces white pearl onions, peeled

Coat cubed beef with flour by shaking it in a large plastic bag. Add beef to melted butter in saucepan and brown nicely on all sides. Stirring frequently. Add 1 1/2 cups water and chill overnight. Next day, remove any accumulated, floating fat. Begin cooking process and add parsley, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours; adding hot beef broth as needed. Add vegetables and any remaining hot beef broth and cook for additional 1 hour or until all vegetables are fully cooked. Remove bay leaves and serve.

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