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Down Home Beef Stew
Since earliest of times stews have been made by slow cooking over an open fire pit. This ancient method of cooking meats slowly in liquid makes delicious meals with tender chunks of meat. In my family the first stew of the late Autumn season is anxiously awaited. It is the beginning of the holiday season.
I make that first huge pot of stew on Halloween day. I start it early to make sure the meat is very tender and the vegetables are cooked well. A rich, thick gravy that clings to every morsel is so tasty. With family members helping to get their kids ready to go trick-or-treating they do not have time to make supper -- even if they did, the kids would be too excited to sit down and eat.
When they bring their little ones to my house for treats I invite them in, give them all some stew and treats then send them on their way. The meat and vegetables warm them up and provides nourishment. The parents especially enjoy the hot stew and the energy it gives them. They know they will not have to go back home and worry about supper.
The best beef to use for a stew is the cheaper, tougher cuts of beef. Although tougher, they are full of flavor. When simmered slowly over low heat, the beef will break down and become tender, while still maintaining it's flavor. Adding a few short ribs to the stew adds a lot of flavor. Any leftover stew is cooled, placed into an oven proof dish with a cover and refrigerated. The stew is just as good on the second or third day, and often better, when all the flavors are given the chance to meld together.
From my 'Down Home Cooking Recipe Box': Old Fashioned Beef Stew
Ingredients for 4 - 6 servings
1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef, cut in bite size pieces
1 or 2 short ribs
6 - 8 cups of water or beef broth (I make my own beef broth from short ribs)
4 - 6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can of peas, drained
1 can of green beans, drained
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Browning and Seasoning Sauce
2 Tbsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
Corn Starch or flour - about 4 tbsp
Heat oil in heavy pot on medium heat. Add all meat and cook till well browned on all sides. Add the browning/seasoning sauce, mix well and cook a little longer to let the meat absorb the sauce. Add broth, onions, garlic, and simmer for four hours or longer, stirring occasionally.
Add potatoes and carrots and simmer till vegetables are tender. When vegetables are tender, make the gravy. Take out about a cup of broth and add enough corn starch or flour to it to make a thick paste, make sure this paste is smooth with no lumps, so mix it well. Return this to the pot and stir on bottom until gravy thickens the whole stew. Add a little more browning sauce for a darker gravy if desired.
Let stew simmer about 30 minutes, stirring often. Add peas, beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let stew simmer till really hot and stir often. Serve with favorite bread or rolls.
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