by Cat, Nov 2013 (photo, right, from MiBek Farms)
See also: Beef Stock
Beef stew was a regular winter Sunday dinner staple in my house when I was growing up. Dad grew lots of root veggies in his garden, especially prizing his rutabagas which he used in his stew along with potatoes, carrots and whatever other veggies he had around. Mom picked mushrooms when available during late summer and early fall, then sautéed and froze them for later use in Dad’s stew. He didn’t use wine in his cooking but sometimes added stale beer to the stew.
While this is written for beef, you could use venison or buffalo; however, set oven 25 degrees lower than listed if stewing buffalo in oven.
You want the tougher cuts of meat for stewing, such as shank (leg) or shoulder. I also recommend including some oxtail cross-cuts because of the wonderful flavor they provide – or use beef stock made with oxtail.
After the meat is browned, a small portion of the veggies are browned in the pan to provide their caramelized flavors to the sauce during the stewing. The remaining veggies are added later so they don’t get overcooked.
Beef Stew, in memory of my Dad, Bill Haug
This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen (2), Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD (3), and my memories of Dad’s stew. Dad loved horseradish, saying. “it is the only horse I can get along with.” So when I saw the recipe in Fine Cooking, which includes prepared horse radish, I just knew I had to dedicate this recipe to him.
These instructions are long, but really it is very simple:
- Prep the meat, veggies & herbs;
- Brown the meat and the caramelizing veggies;
- Deglaze with wine;
- Add broth, and stew in oven or on stovetop until almost tender;
- Add remaining veggies and stew until done, on stovetop or in oven;
- Add horseradish and adjust seasoning;
Serves 4 or more.
Ingredients and Equipment:
Veggies & Herbs
- 1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion
- 1 stalk of celery, with leaves
- 3 – 4 carrots, divided
- 1 – 2 parsnips
- 1 rutabaga or turnip
- 4 – 6 small red potatoes
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic
- 3 – 4 large button mushrooms
- fresh sage or thyme leaves
- fresh parsley leaves
- 1 1/2 Tbsp drained prepared horseradish (the kind with cream)
- 2 lb beef stew meat (or cut up your own from boneless chuck or shoulder roast)
- 2 – 3 strips bacon
- lard, as needed
- Unrefined Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups homemade Beef Stock
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 – 2 Tbsp butter
- Stove-top and oven-proof Dutch oven or enameled cast iron stewing pot, with lid
- small and large bowls for prepped veggies
- large, shallow bowl or rimmed baking sheet, for browned meat
- slotted spoon
- wooden spatula
- small skillet
- Coarsely chop onion, part of the carrots, and celery in amounts as follows: 3/4 cup onion, 1/4 cup carrots, and 1/3 cup celery stalk (save leaves for later). Set aside in a small bowl.
- Scrub, then cut the parsnips and remaining carrots into 1″ pieces (if diameter is more than 1″, cut lengthwise in half or quarters), to fill 1 1/2 cups each. Scrub rutabaga and cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into wedges or 1″ cubes; add to parsnips and carrots. Set aside in large bowl.
- Cut potatoes in half (or thirds if medium-sized); set aside with the parsnips, carrots and leaves from celery; cover with a towel or lid.
- Mince sage or thyme to make about 1 Tbsp. Mince garlic. Set these aside.
- Rinse and trim mushrooms, then cut through cap into slices.
- Cut bacon strips into 1/2″ pieces.
- Cut beef into 1″ – 2″ pieces and spread out on paper towels; pat top of pieces with more paper towel to dry thoroughly (dry meat will brown better).
- If you intend to stew in the oven, preheat to 325°F. (Or if you want to stew it all day, preheat to 250°F)
- Cook bacon in pot over medium heat until browned but not crisp; remove with slotted spoon to plate. Do not wipe out the pan. There should be about 2 Tbsp fat in the pan; if not, add lard as necessary
- Raise heat to medium-high. Add about 1/3 of the beef to the pan, keeping the pieces separated by about 1/2″, and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, adding lard if more fat is needed. Remove to a large shallow bowl or rimmed baking sheet.
- Repeat with each remaining 1/3 of the beef. Then remove pan from heat to cool a bit.
- Return pan to medium heat and add lard as necessary to have about 2 Tbsp melted fat in the pan.
- Add small bowl of chopped onion, carrot and celery and caramelize in the fat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are nicely browned and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and sage, and continue cooking another minute or so, until fragrant. Add cooked bacon.
- Deglaze pan: Add wine and stir with wooden spatula to dissolve the browned bits. Then raise heat to medium-high, and boil to reduce liquids by about half, 5 minutes or so.
- Add beef broth and 1 cup filtered water. Bring again to a boil, then add beef with any accumulated meat juices. Lower heat to simmer.
- At this point, decide whether you want to stew on stove top or in oven. The Fine Cooking recipe uses the oven; my Dad always stewed on stove top.
Stew in Oven
- Cut a sheet of parchment long enough to cover the stew. Fine Cooking recommends crumpling the paper (to make it easier to handle), then flatten it out and place on the surface of the stew (inside the pot and allowing the ends to come up the sides of the pot). Add lid and place in preheated oven.
- While the stew is stewing, sauté the mushrooms in 1 – 2 Tbsp butter until tender, then set aside.
- After 1 – 2 hours of stewing at 325°F or about 12 hours at 250°F (total time depends on which part of the animal the stew meat came from: shoulder meat takes longer than leg meat), add prepped veggies from large bowl, and the sautéed mushrooms, to the pot and give it a stir. Cover again with parchment and lid and return to oven to stew for 1 hour, until meat and veggies are tender.
Stew on stove-top
- You can use parchment as in oven-stewing method above, or just cover pot with a lid.
- Set burner to simmer, simmer gently 2 – 3 hours. Or if you use a simmer plate, cook for 3 – 6 hours.
- Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in 1 – 2 Tbsp butter until tender, then set aside.
- When meat is almost tender, add prepped veggies from large bowl, and sautéed mushrooms. Stew for 1 hour, until meat and veggies are tender.
- Remove excess fat from top using paper towels. However, I don’t mind the fat as long it is from a good source like lard.
- Stir in parsley and horseradish, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- The liquids should have made a nice, slightly thickened sauce so that you don’t need to add starch to thicken. However, if the sauce is too runny, remove the meat and veggies to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Mix a little water with desired starch (2 – 3 tsp flour or tapioca starch) until there are no lumps, then stir into the sauce. Increase heat to medium-high and continue stirring until sauce thickens. Add meat and veggies back, and give it a gentle stir.
- Wonderful Wonderful Danish Cooking by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD