By Todd Goodyear ("Todd's Table")
When the weather starts cooling down in the evenings, as it often does in Newfoundland and Labrador in September, comfort food recipes seem to emerge once again. One of my personal favorite meals is beef stew. There are so many recipes out there for beef stew, and after cooking many of them I have settled on this variation as a true winner, in my opinion. (To be honest, I am not a fan of parsnip and the idea of adding bottled pickled onions to stew was a bit weird, but trust me, it really adds great flavour.)
Growing up, the only stews we ate were made with either beef or moose meat and, regardless, it was just called “stew.” Nowadays we make chicken, pork, lamb or no meat stews, incorporating all sorts of flavours and ingredients.
In our house these days, we are being conscious of the almighty carb intake and we limit the amount of bread we eat. Feel free to continue with the stew tradition of having bread or rolls with yours. I stick with just the stew, but I do miss the bread.
Stick to Your Ribs Beef Stew
Yield 4-6 servings
2 lbs stewing beef
2 tbsp oil (olive, vegetable or avocado)
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small turnip, peeled and chopped into cubes
2 parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
2 cups red wine
3-4 cups beef broth
3-4 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 jar of pickled baby white onions (drained)
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 small potatoes (optional)
A good rule of thumb for cooking a meal like this is to use a large thick-bottomed pot. Preheat that pot over medium high heat. While waiting, pat dry the beef with paper towels and cut it into cubes. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Add the oil to the pot and add the meat in just a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pot. Brown the meat on all sides, remove and repeat until you’ve browned all the meat. Add more oil with every batch of meat.
This method takes a little more time and patience, but doing it this way will pay off in the end. Browning the meat properly will give you the great flavour needed for an awesome stew that your family and friends will enjoy.
Once all the meat is browned and set aside, discard any leftover oil in the pot, but keep the brown bits and what may be stuck on to the bottom of the pot. This is where the hearty beef flavour will come from.
Add the wine and half the beef broth. As that heats up, scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze and gather up all the brown-bits goodness.
Add half the vegetables (if you are using potato, wait until later to add them), browned beef, tomatoes (with juice), bay leaves and rosemary. Bring the pot to a simmer.
Cook until the vegetables are almost tender, then add the jar of pickled onions and remaining vegetables (including all the potato). The first lot of vegetables will dissolve into the stew and help to make it thick, while the second lot will maintain their shape and make the stew look very delicious with their vibrant colours.
Simmer until beef and vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I am delighted to hear from readers who are trying the recipes that I write about. Keep the feedback coming and remember, cook with confidence. If I can do it, you can, too.