Friday, October 11, 2013

Stew Season!!

It's my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. I love making soups and stews and wintery comfort food, baking holiday treats and the smell of good things in the slow cooker.

Every time I read a story that talks about travelers who stop at inns and eat crusty bread and hot mutton stew, it makes me hungry. My favorite of such books are Robert Jordan's (and to a lesser extent, Brandon Sanderson's) The Wheel of Time series, but that's a topic for another blog. So between fantasy novels and the crisp, cool air, I decided it's time for the first batch of stew of the season. (I even checked the weather forecast so I would be sure not to make it on a hot day. The high today is under 55 degrees, so that's perfect for stew and hot, fresh rolls!)

I combined a couple of recipes to create this, and it is, in my opinion, superb beef stew. I don't own an indoor dutch oven, but I imagine you could make this in one if you prefer. I love having it cook all day and then all I have to do when I get home from work is make rolls and we're ready for dinner!

Let me know in the comments if you try it, I'd like to hear what you think!
Most of my ingredients gathered. Carrots mid-chop!

Two Rivers Beef Stew

2.5 lb. London Broil roast (ask the butcher to cut it into stew meat, or do it yourself), cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 packet dry stew seasoning mix
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Kosher (or regular table) salt 
1 tsp paprika
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 good sized Russet or Yukon potatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cans beef broth
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
2 cloves garlic (I use 1 TB minced garlic)
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce

Put the meat in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a bowl, mix together the flour, stew seasoning, pepper, salt and paprika. Add to meat, stir well to coat the meat thoroughly. Stir in everything else, adding the broth last.

Side note: I tried a new trick when I made this last: coating the meat in flour & stew packet, then browning in a skillet of hot olive oil before putting in the slow cooker. It mostly just made a mess of my skillet and then because much of the flour stayed in the skillet, I had to add a TON of cornstarch before we could eat the stew-- it came out like soup. So, although some people recommend this for the browner flavor on the meat, I don't think it tasted any better and I don't think it's worth the extra effort and mess. But that's why the meat looks cooked in this "before" photo.
Looks good!!

Cover, cook on low all day, 10-12 hours. 

If it looks too thin, mix 1-2 TB cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water, then add and turn the heat up to high. It needs to boil for about 1 minute to allow the cornstarch to thicken it up. 
I hope you enjoy this hot, tasty stew as much as we do!! We love to eat this with fresh rolls or homemade bread. 

This is a decent starter recipe, which you can adjust and add other ingredients as you see fit. I despise peas, but I know some people love them in stew, so you could certainly add them, or other veggies or whatever you like! We usually use twice as much meat, because we like our stew MEATY, so that requires some slight adjusting to the seasonings and adding more broth. 

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