Stew has to be one of the most delicious and versatile one pot meals. And with cold winds blowing and rain falling around here, it’s certainly the right time of year to pull out my stew recipes! This one utilizes many of the delicious flavors in season right now, such as sweet squash and earthy mushrooms. I gave a basic beef stew in my ecourse that is a favorite. For this stew, I challenged myself to make a great tasting tomato free version. Because many of us didn’t get to can our own tomatoes this year (at least I didn’t) and all canned tomato product (excepting a few in glass jars) have BPA in it, I thought it would be a good thing to have in my stew repertoire. I also know that many avoid nightshades, so this is a great stew for you too. To make it high in flavor without the acidic tomatoes, I’ve added red wine and rich balsamic vinegar. Love it. It’s going to be my new recipe to turn too.
Beef stews often have very high amounts of beef in it, making it a not very frugal choice. I’ve found with a little experimenting that one doesn’t need 5 pounds of beef to make a pot of stew. 1-2 pounds does fine when you’ve added plenty of vegetables to the mix. Just remember that stews, like soups, are very versatile. You can easily play around with the ingredients and amounts to make it fit your preference.
Autumn Beef Stew
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of beef stew, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-4 tablespoons of Fat of Choice (bacon grease, lard, tallow, coconut oil)
2 celery sticks, finely diced
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
6 cups of broth, beef or chicken (or combination of broth and water)
2 cups of red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (to taste)
2 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
4 large potatoes, cubed (1/2 inch)
4 cups of peeled and cubed (1/2 inch) firm winter squash such as butternut, delicata, acorn, etc.
1 pound of mushrooms of choice, quartered
1 to 1 1/2 cups of corn, frozen or cut fresh off of the cob
1) In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of fat of your choice over med high heat while you pat dry the beef stew meat. If you buy already cut, they will be in 1 inch cubes, you can cut them in half to make into smaller cubes. Salt and pepper the meat. In two batches brown the meat in the hot oil. Stir to brown all sides and remove. Add more fat as needed.
2) Add the finely chopped celery and onions (once again added a bit more fat if needed) and saute, stirring as needed to prevent browning or burning. Cook until soft (5-7 minutes). Then add the broth, wine, dried thyme, and bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Cook for one hour.
3) At the end of the hour, add the potatoes, carrots, squash, and mushrooms and cook for one more hour. At the end of the second hour, your vegetables will be soft and your meat very tender. Then add the corn and cook until heated through, salt and pepper to taste, adjust with balsamic vinegar if needed, and serve.