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Beef stew with variations, basic comfort food

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The colder weather is rearing its’ head, making us all think differently when it comes to meals. So, break out your time-honoured comfort food recipes. Thick creamy soups with a slice of homemade bread and of course Beef stew. The local stores offer many varieties of root vegetables at this time of year and this recipe allows you to mix and match your favourites.

Basic beef stew (see also alternative suggestions below)

Ingredients: Serves 4 (as a full meal)

  • 1 pound of Stewing Beef, cubed
  • 4 to 6 large Potatoes, unpeeled, cut into four
  • 6 Carrots, unpeeled, cut into 3” chunks
  • 1 to 2 large Sweet onions, cut into four, or equivalent in smaller onions
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons AHA No-salt seasoning mix (see supplementary recipe below)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Water to cover
  • 4 Tablespoons Bisto Beef Gravy maker, in cold water
  • Flour alternative

Watch the video on Guinness stout soaked beef, for more ideas on preparing the beef ahead of time for the stew. For the more adventurous cooks, of course.

Directions:

  1. In a skillet, brown/sear the stewing beef cubes. Turn the pieces so that all the sides get seared. Leave each side in contact with the pan only long enough to change the colour. Note: You do not want to cook them at this point. The searing is only to seal in the juicesl
  2. Wash and cut the potatoes and carrots. Do not peel them. Cut into large chunks.
  3. Peel and cut the onions. By cutting them into four, you leave large tasty chunks in your stew.
  4. In a large stewing pot (cast iron stewing pot is ideal), add the seared beef, onions, carrots and potatoes.
  5. Add hot water to cover the beef and vegetables.
  6. Push down any vegetables that are sticking up above the water line.
  7. Add the garlic cloves and AHA seasoning mixture (recipe below).
  8. Using medium heat, slowly bring the water to a boil.
  9. Stir occasionally to keep the ingredients immersed below the water line.
  10. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down just enough to keep a slow boil, but not a rapid boil.
  11. Cook approx. 20 minutes until potatoes and carrots are soft, when a knife is inserted.
  12. Taste your broth and add pepper to taste, if necessary. If you are not watching your sodium levels then you may wish to add some salt at this point as well.
  13. Place the Bisto gravy maker into a glass and add some cold water, just enough to mix. Stir until smooth, with no lumps visible.
  14. With the stew broth still at a slow boil, slowly pour the Bisto mixture into it, while stirring constantly.
  15. The broth will start to thicken as you stir. Note: If you wish a thicker stew, add flour (added to cold water first, as in #13) or half Bisto, half flour.
  16. Turn down the heat to low and cover until ready to serve.

Variations:

Add any of the following:

  • Turnip, Rutabaga, Parsnips or other root vegetables – Peel and cut into large chunks.
  • Acorn squash, Butternut squash or Sweet Potato – Do not overcook, Add after the potatoes and carrots have already cooked for at least 10 minutes. Aim to have them still just a little bit firm. If they get too soft they will just disintegrate into your stew.
  • Chili peppers or dash of your favourite hot sauce – if you like stew with a hot bite to it.
  • Celery – it tends to wash out during cooking and look grayish, so esthetically, I would avoid this one. However, it will add natural sodium and taste to the broth. I have used celery in the past, but removed it before the thickening process.
  • Use your imagination and see what you can find at your local market. Avoid the softer vegetable categories as they will just disintegrate into your broth/gravy.
  • Try changing the beef to Pork cubes or bite sized pieces of skinless, boneless Chicken thighs.
  • Try soaking your stewing beef in Guinness. Watch the video for directions and ideas.

AHA No salt seasoning mix

This recipe comes from an American Heart Association cookbook. It is a staple in my kitchen.

  • ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground Basil, 1 ½ if dried leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground Thyme, 1 ¼ if dried leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground Parsley, 1 ½ if dried leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground Savoury, 1 ¼ if dried leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sage, 1 ½ if dried leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Mace
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper

Mix all ingredients together until well mixed. Store the finished mixture in a sealed container. Good for several months, if kept dry.

Note: I use mostly dried leaves so, I use an electric coffee grinder to mix into a powder that I can sprinkle on foods or use in recipes such as this.

Gluten Free Options:

The Bisto Gravy maker is not gluten free. Therefore, add your favourite packaged GF gravy mix. I have found that 2 packages of GF gravy mix plus 2 Tablespoons of Sorghum Flour, make a nice thick brown gravy. Be sure to mix with cold water and stir until smooth, before adding to your boiling stew broth.

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Thank-you for reading and sharing this article with others. Enjoy!

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