Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hearty Beef Stew for a Chilly Weekend Night

John and I had a motley crew of vegetables packed for the country, and I was determined to eat them this weekend... I am so over lugging food back and forth from the city to the country, as everything gets softer, squishier, and more bruised. Butternut squash: we're eatin' it! Bag o' carrots: Getting cooked! Bits of celery: Well... we'll see. John suggested ants-on-a-log for those. : ) Onions, garlic, potatoes: They're all goin' down!

We also had two funny steaks in the freezer that we'd picked up at our grocery store out here. They were organic, grass-fed, vacuum-packed steaks that cost a whopping $3.50 each, so we bought them on a whim and stuck them in the freezer. John recently heard a piece on the radio saying that beef stew was best made with steak meat instead of stew meat (we can't remember where or why... sorry) which inspired us to thaw those steaks and chop them up for a hearty beef stew. John found the recipe below on the Martha Stewart website and it was a total breeze.

We made a couple of small revisions to the recipe-- 1.) We made a half portion since it was only for the two of us. 2.) We browned the beef before adding the rest of the ingredients to the dutch oven. 3.) We added 1-part red wine and 1-part beef stock instead of the water recommended. 4.) We cut the cook time down to 1-1/2 hours because there was less liquid and we weren't sure how that would change the end product. But seriously. Take a look at the instructions for this recipe. There are literally 2 1/2 steps. E-Z. And we were able to use the steaks, the onions, the potatoes, the carrots, and the garlic-- all in one pot. (Don't worry-- I chopped up the butternut squash and roasted it on a pan below the dutch oven while the stew cooked. And resigned myself to celery sticks for a snack tomorrow...)


  • 3 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound medium onions (about 2), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound small white or red new potatoes (about 6), well scrubbed, halved if large
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven (5-quart) with a tight-fitting lid, combine beef*, tomato paste, vinegar, and flour; season with salt and pepper. 
    *This is where we browned the beef. We cubed our steaks into 2.5" pieces, patted them dry, added salt & pepper, and then tossed the beef into a hot dutch oven on the stove top. We browned the cubes on both sides,then we added the balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup of red wine and let it sear off for a second. After, we took it off the heat to add the other ingredients (the tomato paste, flour, s & p) 
  2. Add onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and 3 cups water. Return to the stove and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and, if desired, season with salt and pepper before serving.

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