November in the kitchen – slow simmered beef stew

November in the kitchen – slow simmered beef stew

Slow Simmered Beef Stew

This recipe could be the answer to “what’s for dinner” when you have a busy afternoon (holiday shopping?), but want something warming and filling. There will be wonderful smells when you walk into your kitchen at the end of the day. It cooks for 5 hours completely unattended. Try it; the results are delicious and good enough for company. The original idea came from a cookbook (mine now well-used, stained, and tattered) called Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase. She was one of the co-authors of the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. She lives in Nantucket and the recipe is perfect for stormy, cold evenings.

Quick and easy beef stew

Slow Simmered Beef Stew

Slow Simmered Beef Stew (6-8 servings)

You will need:

  • 2 ½ to 4 lbs. of lean beef stew meat, cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes
  • 6-8 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks the size as the meat
  • 6-8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ½ cups of spicy vegetable juice (use regular if you prefer it less spicy)
  • ½ cup of hearty red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of tapioca, I used Minute Tapioca
Slow cooked beef stew

preparation for slow cooked beef stew


  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the beef with all the vegetables. Season with the garlic and herbs. No, you don’t need to pre-brown the meat! I know, I didn’t believe it either but I’ve made this many times and it works.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the vegetable juice, wine, mustard, brown sugar, and tapioca, making sure to dissolve the sugar and tapioca. Add this mixture to the meat and vegetables, stir to blend well.
  4. Transfer the stew to a large casserole or Dutch oven. Cover tightly and cook 5 hours without opening the lid or disturbing. You can serve this directly or refrigerate overnight and reheat the next day.

Use your imagination as far as vegetables. I used carrots and shallots this time. In the past, I’ve added turnips, potatoes, parsnips, boiling onions, kohlrabi, and elephant garlic. Use this recipe as your canvas for what you find at the market or in your garden.

I served this with a simple mash of parsnips and potatoes (about half potatoes and half parsnips), flavored with a bit of butter, a couple of tablespoons of cream, and some horseradish for a punch.

If you have some, serve the pickled mustard seeds on the side. I did and it was a good counterpoint to the richness of the meat.

Easy Beef Stew

Easy Beef Stew with Potato/Parsnip and Horseradish mash

Add a salad freshly gathered from the garden, you have an easy weeknight dinner which feels much fancier than it is.

Note: I would not transfer this recipe to a slow cooker, it will have far too much liquid. Slow cooker recipes need an entirely different formula for success. Also, please check your tapioca label if you need this recipe to be gluten free, not all of them are. Minute Tapioca is gluten free.

November in the kitchen – pickled mustard seeds

November in the kitchen – pickled mustard seeds

Pickled Mustard Seeds

I first heard of pickled mustard seeds in the cookbook “66 Square Feet” by Marie Vijoen. She writes a blog by the same name and lives in New York City. It’s a great cookbook and an interesting blog; I’d love to go on one of her food foraging walks in the NY area.

Since then they seem to be everywhere. I had them sprinkled on a salad with beets and goat cheese, as an ingredient in a mustard seed sauce for BBQ, and on a meatloaf sandwich. They are pungent with a tangy mustard flavor and a pop as you bit into them; surprisingly, they are not particularly hot. Lastly they are strangely addictive, you will find lots of uses once you make them.

The original recipe came from David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant. (I understand he copied it from his time at Tom Colicchio’s restaurant, Craft.) We all copy each other don’t we? I get ideas from every blog and cookbook I read. There is a stack of cookbooks and books about food by my bed, ready for middle of the night reading. I can read a cookbook the way other people read novels, mentally tasting my way through every page.

Beside reading list

Beside reading

I plan to use these as a condiment with slow cooked beef stew tomorrow night. We have friends coming over for a mid-week dinner and I want to make things easy for myself. It is impressive but couldn’t be easier!

Pickled Mustard Seeds

pickled mustard seeds cooking

mustard seeds simmering

  • 1 cup of yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup of rice wine vinegar (plain not flavored)
  • ¾ cup of water
  • ¾ cup of mirin
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  1. Combine everything in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook 1 hour.
  3. Add more water if needed to keep them moist.
  4. Cool and pour into a container. They will thicken as they cool.


This will keep for several months in the fridge.