Spring may be just around the corner but I’m still holding onto the warm and satisfying comforts of winter; like flannel slippers, my nordic pj leggings that I have been living in, and big pots of slow-cooked beef stew.
Before BBQ season begins (yumm…), do yourself a favor and make this bold and beautiful beef stew this weekend. The delicious aroma will fill your home and you’ll have yourself a hearty supper for the family or a lifesaver lunch or dinner through the week. As with most stews, this one gets even better after a day or two.
My version of beef stew includes all the classic ingredients you’d expect – stewing beef, onion, carrots, celery, mini potatoes, spices and beef stock. Two unexpected additions though take it up a notch with the addition of beer and a cup of cocktail onions. Trust me on the cocktail onions. After a few hours of simmering, these little onions pearls will caramelize and you’ll find yourself spooning them out of the pot to keep to yourself.
Beef stew…and dishes like it, have a special place in my memory and many of yours too I’m sure. I can recall many a Sunday where dishes would simmer slowly all day long while the family leisurely filled the time in other ways. There was no rush, things seemed simpler. My sister or I would be finishing up homework, mom and dad would be keeping busy with little tasks for the week ahead, or the entire family could be found in the family room, some of us napping, some of us watching tv, I was probably colouring or curled up in a book.
I recently watched the 4-part Netflix Documentary Series: Cooked by Michael Pollan. In a word – AMAZING. Each episode focuses on one of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – and how food and its preparation has evolved through history. While the methods of preparation and how certain foods became such staples in our homes was fascinating, the biggest point that resonated with me was how important meal preparation – cooking – in our own homes is. In today’s world of drive-thru windows, take-out, hot counters and 20-minutes or free delivery, the gap is growing between the food that’s grown and what ends up on our plate. After watching this series, the desire to cook and bake “from scratch” and hold onto traditions became even stronger to me.
Of course there is much to be said for the amazing conveniences of modern day food but as with most things, a balance is probably the best approach. Knowing how to make a few simple and delicious meals can make all the difference in our relationship with food, appreciation and celebration of our roots, and most importantly, the quality of time spent with those we share it with.
enjoy | liz | xo
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1.5 kg (3lb) stewing beef cubes cut in 1-inch (if not already)
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, cut into thick coins
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3/4 cup beer
- 454g (1lb) mini potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili seasoning
- a few sprigs of fresh parsley
- 3 cups sodium-reduced beef broth
- 1 cup pickled cocktail onions, drained and rinsed
- 1 can green peas
- In large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss gently to coat.
- In large oven-safe pot (ie. Dutch oven), heat 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil over medium heat. Working in small batches, add the beef and cook, turning each piece until browned on all sides. As batches are complete, transfer to plate or bowl, set aside.
- Add remaining oil to the pot along with onion, celery, and carrots. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the beer, and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits, for another 2 minutes.
- Return beef and any juices to the pot. Add in potatoes, spices and parsley. Pour in broth and bring to boil, stirring occasionally to loosen any remaining browned bits from bottom.
- Cover and place into 350F oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and add in cocktail onions. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Uncover and return to oven to cook until vegetables are tender and beef is tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in peas and cook for 5 final minutes.
- Remove parsley leaves. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.