Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Hearty" Beef Stew

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There's been a good bit of stress in my life the past couple of days. So, with the sun shining and the breeze of a 63 degree January day blowing through my screen door, I set out to clear my head by cutting vegetables in the kitchen. There's nothing really as stress relieving as spending time hearing the chop on the cutting board, or feeling the heat from the stove top as you gingerly stir something bubbling in a pot, or my most favorite,  dancing around in your kitchen while something simmers. Being a crazy creative person, there's no "just" making something. You need to make it with pizazz. I set out today to make "hearty" beef stew.

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Pinterest is filled to the brim with valentine's day ideas, and while perusing the endless pins, I came upon one that showed how to cut carrots into hearts. "YES!" I exclaimed to an empty room, "this is perfect!" But, why do carrots get all the love? Why not the potatoes too? I dug around in my cookie cutter drawer and found the smallest heart cutter I had, sliced up some potatoes and voila! heart potatoes. The rest is just normal beef stew. I love stew because you can put absolutely anything you want into it and it is going to be awesome. All the root vegetables you have on hand can go into a pot and with a few herbs and some spice, you have a soul warming dinner. Below is the recipe I stick to on a normal day, but feel free to tinker with it to suit your tastes or to clear out the fridge.

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 "Hearty" Beef Stew
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 potatoes, cut into hearts if you are feeling creative!
4 carrots, carve those things up!
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole tomatoes, chopped with juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
chuck roast (amount depends on how meaty you like your stew)
flour, just enough to coat beef
olive oil

Rinse and pat dry beef. Cut into cubes. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven (or other heavy bottomed pot). Place beef in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Toss to coat. Once the olive oil is hot, place flour-coated beef in pot. If it doesn't sizzle, your oil is not hot enough, let it heat a little longer and try again. Let beef brown on all sides, turning every couple of minutes. Once beef is browned, remove from pot and place on a plate. Deglaze the pot using a splash of red wine or water, however you see fit. Scrape up all the chunky beef bits from the bottom. Toss in the onion, celery, garlic, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is tender and slightly translucent, 5-10 minutes. If the onion starts to stick, add a little more red wine or water. Add tomato paste, stirring to coat. Once the tomato paste is heated and fragrant, add potatoes, carrots and canned tomatoes. Heat the mixture thoroughly. Pour in the beef stock and bring to a boil. Next, stir in browned beef. Add lemon juice and fresh parsley. This will really brighten the flavors. Cover and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes. Add more beef stock or water if needed. Enjoy!

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Carving vegetables tends to create a lot of waste. I ran my scraps through the food processor and will have amazing carrot and potato hash browns in the morning. You'll be amazed at how good they are.


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