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.
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
- Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.