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Recipe: Classic Beef Stew

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Happy fall, everyone! October is my favorite month of the year because it marks the start of my favorite season after a long, hot Texas summer. I love the cooler temperatures, changing colors, fall festivals, the extra! hour!, and the comforting recipes of the season. The only thing I don't like are the shorter daylight hours. It is torture for a food blogger! It is always a race against the clock to get a recipe prepped, cooked, styled, and photographed before the sun goes down. During the fall and winter months, I often try to start a recipe I want to blog about much earlier in the day so I can photograph it before it gets dark, but I am not always successful depending on what I have going on. Luckily, I managed to get this Classic Beef Stew photographed in the nick of time and I am glad I did because I wanted to share it with you.

Beef Stew

The Joy of Cooking was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned and it is still one of my favorites to turn to when I want to learn how to make a recipe that I have never tried before or when I want to research an ingredient or cooking technique. I have been making Classic Beef Stew for several years and I learned how to make it from The Joy of Cooking. It is a simple and straightforward recipe that is perfect for the cool weather months. It is also a wonderful recipe to make for casual entertaining. It is a recipe that is easily doubled and can feed a crowd. Who doesn't love classic comfort food? Just set out the stew right in the pot and let everyone help themselves.

The last months of the year are always a busy time for families with school events, sports, extracurricular activities, and the upcoming holidays. It can be very tempting to grab fast food or eat out when everyone's schedule is jam-packed, but it is often an unhealthy (and expensive) way to eat. This Classic Beef Stew can be made on a weekend or earlier in the day and then re-heated or frozen to eat at a later time, giving you a homemade and healthy mealtime recipe. It is an excellent recipe for big batch cooking and is freezer-friendly, so it is a perfect "stock the freezer" recipe to add to your repertoire. I chose to use carrots and parsnips, but you could also use Russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, or rutabagas. Be sure to serve this delicious Classic Beef Stew with fluffy mashed potatoes or (my personal favorite) over hot, buttered egg noodles. This Classic Beef Stew is a hearty and comforting recipe that will keep you warm and satisfied all through the upcoming cold months.

Classic Beef Stew Recipe

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat (chuck, short rib, or bottom round)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 3 parsnips, cut into large chunks
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs (thyme, savory, marjoram, oregano, or basil)
  • 2 Tablespoons Kneaded butter (recipe below)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Special Equipment: Oven-safe Dutch oven (such as Le Creuset)

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Pat the beef stew meat dry with paper towels and place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and toss to coat. Place the flour in another shallow dish and dredge the meat in the flour until all the pieces are evenly coated.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in an oven-safe Dutch oven. Add the meat pieces (shaking off excess flour) into the hot oil in batches and brown on all sides using tongs to flip each piece of meat. Use the tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the browned meat to a clean plate (you never want to put cooked food back on the same plate where raw meat has been placed). Set aside.

Add 1 additional Tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pot if necessary or pour off any excess fat that accumulated during the browning of the meat. There should be roughly 2 Tablespoons of oil in the pot. Add in the chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the carrot and parsnip chunks and toss to coat in the oil and brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add in the dried herbs and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, mixing well to distribute the seasonings. Add the browned meat back into the pot and then add in the beef stock, and stir well to combine. Bring the stock to a gentle boil then remove from the heat. Place the cover on the pot and place in the heated oven to cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the meat and vegetables are fork tender. Skim off and discard any fat that may rise to the top of the stew before serving. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the kneaded butter and mix well to dissolve it throughout the stew. Serve with buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle each serving with some of the chopped fresh parsley.

To make Kneaded Butter:

  • 2 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Use a fork to mash the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles small peas. Whisk into the hot stew liquid and stir constantly until it is completely dissolved and the sauce has thickened slightly.

To Freeze:

Allow the Beef Stew to cool completely to room temperature after cooking. Spoon into freezer-safe containers and cover tightly. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. If the stew is still slightly frozen when you go to re-heat it, simply place the stew in the pot, cover and re-heat over low heat. The frozen portion will gradually defrost as the stew re-heats.

What is your family's favorite comfort food during the fall?

Flavia Scalzitti is a food blogger based in Houston, Texas. She is originally from Maryland and comes from an Italian family. Flavia grew up around people who used food and cooking as a way to keep their traditions alive, celebrate their Italian culture, express their love for their family, and nourish the people they cooked for with the freshest and best quality ingredients. She is entirely self-taught and is also passionate about baking. In addition to cooking and baking, Flavia enjoys learning about and practicing photography, reading, traveling, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband, Peter. She blogs at Flavia's Flavors: http://www.flaviasflavors.com

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