Friday, January 30, 2009

Hearty Beef Stew

This is a good go to recipe for feeding a hungry crew. According to Cook's Country, this serves 6 to 8. Maybe if they're lumberjacks. We fed 10 and still had leftovers. The recipe calls for parsnips, but I only find them about half of the time that I want them, so I just double the carrots. It also calls for only 1 lb. of red potatoes. I use whatever I have on hand and probably closer to 2 lbs. With 5 lbs. of beef, we like some extra potatoes. The stew is thickened with instant tapioca. According to my mom, my dad hates tapioca, so we don't tell him it's in there. He really likes the stew. The addition of soy sauce (don't tell my dad that one either) helps bring out the beefiness. I think my favorite part about this recipe is that it's a slow cooker recipe, so I do all the work in the morning and have very little fuss at mealtime. The downside is it takes about an hour for all the cutting, pealing, chopping and browning to get it going. I like to add the veggies back in with the stew half and hour or so before serving so they can soak up the flavor. Oh, I used dried thyme instead of fresh with no ill effects.

Hearty Beef Stew

Serves 6 to 8

If you’re going to be away from your slow cooker for more than 10 hours, cutting the vegetables into larger, 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces will help them retain their texture.

5 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast , trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

Table salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions , chopped fine
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound carrots , peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips , peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound red potatoes , cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
2 cups frozen peas , thawed

1. Dry beef with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow-cooker insert and repeat with remaining beef (you shouldn’t need more oil).

2. Add 1 tablespoon oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to empty skillet and cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring well, for 2 minutes. Add broth and soy sauce, bring to simmer, and transfer to slow-cooker insert.

3. Toss carrots, parsnips, potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap vegetables in foil packet that will fit in slow cooker. Stir bay leaves and tapioca into slow-cooker insert; set vegetable packet on top of beef.

4. Set slow cooker to high, cover, and cook for 6 to 7 hours. (Or cook on low for 10 to 11 hours.) Transfer vegetable packet to plate. Carefully open packet (watch for steam) and stir vegetables and juices into stew. Add remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and peas and let stand until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Make Ahead

You can do most of the prep for this recipe the night before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. Prepare the recipe through step 2 and refrigerate the browned beef and onion mixture in separate containers. In the morning, just transfer everything to the slow cooker and proceed with step 3. The cooking time will run to the high end of the ranges given in the recipe.

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