Easy Beef Stew

All, Beef & Veal

We don’t wait for St. Patrick’s day around here to have corned beef and cabbage. It is certainly one of the easiest and tastiest meal you can fix. It is also useful if you have company over, because it will feed 6-8 people, and maybe even then provide some leftovers.

The leftover corned beef gives you the opportunity to make corned beef hash, which is a real treat for breakfast or for a quick supper.

The corned beef comes in a plastic pouch, sometimes with a little spice packet included. In the market, they will all be about the same size, so shopping decisions are easy. Just buy the corned beef, some potatoes, and a head of white cabbage. If you’re not feeding too many people, many stores sell half heads of cabbage.

I usually use my crock pot, but if you don’t have one, you can simmer the beef in a stove top pot. Directions are on the package. If you want to add some flavor, as I usually do, add a tablespoon or two of pickling spice to the pot. Place the meat fat side up and cover with water and start cooking.

If you don’t have a crock pot, and still would like to have this cooking while you’re at work, you can put the pot in the oven at 200 degrees F for the day. I tried this with the Spicy Wine Pot Roast, and it worked great.

About an hour before dinner, remove the meat from the pot and put it in a pan in the oven. The oven (at about 300 degrees) will keep the meat hot and will brown the fat for a nicer appearance. Meanwhile, peel and chop the spuds into golf ball sized pieces and put them in the pot the meat came out of. You may have to turn up the heat to get the potatoes boiling, or, as I do, dump the crock pot water into another pot for the stove so you can get it hotter. After 20 minutes or so, just before the potatoes are done, add the cabbage, cut into wedges, into the same pot.

When it’s time to serve, slice the meat across the grain, and remove servings of potato and cabbage from the pot with a slotted spoon. Add butter, salt, and pepper to the cabbage and potato. Serve with horseradish sauce or mustard on the side. This is so good you’ll want to honor St. Pat every month!

INGREDIENTS

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

instructions

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.