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Easy Beef Stew

Easy Beef Stew

There are lots of recipes for beef stew, and some are a lot more work than others. One of the main reasons is that everything should cooked just right at the end, and some of the ingredients cook faster than others. So there's a schedule you have to keep to make it work right. (If you don't want to, or can't, cook it all day, I've put a stove-top schedule down at the bottom of the page.)

That's why the crock pot was invented, and you can use one for this recipe if you have one. However if you don't, I found that you can use a regular stew pot like I did for the Spicy Wine Pot Roast. Most pots can go in the oven, so you should be able to do this.

This recipe takes about a half hour in the beginning and 15 minutes at the end. For the eight or so hours in between, you can be at work or playing golf or doing chores. If you have a crock pot, use it. If you don't, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. (If your oven temperature control isn't digital or is hard to read, you probably should get an oven thermometer for a few bucks so you'll know what setting to use.) Here's a recipe that will serve 4-6 people.

Easy Beef Stew

3 pounds (approximately) beef chuck pot roast, boneless, cubed OR 2 1/2 pounds stew meat
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup catsup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 or 4 dashes of Tabasco
4 garlic cloves, minced, or 4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped, or two cups of baby carrots
4-8 red potatoes, depending on size, or 2 large potatoes cut into chunks
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup peas
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus parsley sprigs for garnish

In a large stew pot (but small enough to fit in the oven) heat the oil. Season the stew meat with garlic salt and pepper, and brown in the oil for about three minutes per side. Using tongs, turn the meat once, and then remove from pot. Add oil if necessary, browning the meat in batches until it's all done. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

In the meantime, mix the wine, beef broth, catsup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Chop the vegetables and have them ready.

After the meat has been browned, in the now-empty pot, add oil if necessary to make about three tablespoons in the pot. Stir in the flour and dissolve it in the oil. Let it cook for several minutes until it is about the color of peanut butter. Add the wine mixture a cup at a time, and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom of the pot with a spatula, scraping up the browned bits left behind from the meat. After all the liquid has been added, put in the vegetables, except for the mushrooms and peas.

Put the meat back into the pot, including drippings from the meat. If you have a crock pot, put everything in it instead of the browning pot. Put the pot in the 200 degree oven, or turn the crock pot on the low setting.

Eight hours or so later, remove the pot from the oven and put it on the stove over low heat to keep warm. Add the peas and mushrooms to the pot, or to the crock pot if you're using one. Stir the stew, and taste it to adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

If you want to thicken the stew, melt three tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, add three tablespoons of flour, and make another roux, letting it brown as before. Using a ladle, get some of the stew liquid out of the pot and add to the roux. As it thickens, add more. After you've added a couple of cup's worth of stew liquid, pour the thickened liquid back into the stew.

Alternatively, you can mix three tablespoons of soft butter with three tablespoons of flour, and mush it together until the flour is absorbed. Then stir the globs into the stew until they dissolve, and the stew will have a thicker glossier look. Better flavor, too.

Ladle the stew into serving bowls, making sure each serving gets some of the vegetables. Garnish with parsley, and serve with some good crusty bread to soak up the juices. We ate the stew shown in the photo with soup spoons, and the meat was so tender we could cut it with the spoons. Everyone loved it!

Oh, yeah. If you want to cook this faster, put the pot without any vegetables in a 300 degree oven for an hour, or simmer on the stove for an hour, and then add the vegetables (except for the mushrooms and peas). Cook another hour and add the mushrooms and peas. Then thicken the stew as mentioned above, and enjoy!

Serve with fresh French bread or cornbread or Old South Cornbread, and a simple salad like sliced tomatoes spritzed with a little vinegar and olive oil, with a sprinkle of Italian spices.

Copyright John P. Choisser - 2005-2014