Beef Stew Quandry

Posted by Brette in Food

I meant to make Martha’s Beef Stew with Noodles – a “dinner tonight” suggestion from Everyday Food via one of their daily emails. I really did.  I printed it out and took it to the kitchen. But once I started really reading the recipe, I just could not do it. I could not make a beef stew that I knew would be inadequate.

I’ve been craving beef stew. It’s one of those fall comfort foods that make you feel warm and cozy. Last weekend, I was really craving it, but it was late, I was tired, the kids weren’t home (not many people to enjoy it) and I didn’t have the time or energy to make it. So Mr. MarthaAndMe and I went out. I ordered it at a restaurant and it was bad. It was more like a soup and it only had 3 chunks of beef in it. That did not satisfy the craving. When Martha’s recipe popped up in my mailbox, I decided to make it, but this recipe just did not appeal to me. First of all, it uses chicken stock. Chicken stock? In beef stew? Huh? How about BEEF stock? The only vegetable in this is carrots (and onions). And there is no seasoning. Blech. The recipe also does  not cook the stew long at all – and that means the meat would be tough. I couldn’t do it. Maybe the fact that I am nearing the end of my year of Martha is wearing on me, but I simply could not willingly make a bad stew.

Instead, this is what I did:

beef stewCook 2 pieces of bacon that have been chopped up in a Dutch oven. Remove the bacon when cooked, but keep the grease. Add one chopped onion and cook till translucent. Add 2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces. Brown the beef. Add half to 3/4  of a bag of baby carrots that have been cut into bite size pieces. Add 1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped. Add 1 box of mushrooms, sliced. If you have other hard veggies lying around, you can toss them in – turnips, rutabaga, parsnip. I only add potato if I am serving this on its own – if I’m serving with noodles, I don’t like to add potatoes. Cook this for a couple of minutes, to start softening the veggies.

Add the bacon back in. Next add 1/4 cup flour and stir to coat. Add 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme, lots of salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of tomato paste. Add 1 cup white wine then add 1 carton of beef broth (or enough to just cover the stew ingredients). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for an hour and a half. Remove the lid and simmer for 30 more min. Check the consistency  – I like mine very thick, so I usually end up adding some Wondra at the end.

spaetzleI served this over homemade spaetzle. 2 cups flour, 1 cup water, 2 eggs, 4 tsp vegetable oil. Mix it up and drop by heaping tablespoon into boiling water. Wait about 30 seconds then use a spoon to gently loosen them from the bottom of the pan. When they are floating on the top, they’re done (this happens very quickly). It takes several batches. Toss the spaetzle with butter and serve covered with beef stew.

Way better than Martha’s recipe!beef stew2

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