Monday, February 21, 2011

Beef Stew & Blue Skies

One of the great things about slow cooking is that you can put dinner in the oven (or slow-cooker) and forget about it while you do something else. Yesterday, I was so happy to be out working in the garden and enjoying our Carolina sunshine and not worrying about supper. The added bonus to slow cooking is how wonderfully aromatic it is. When I finally took off my gardening gloves and walked into the house to clean up for supper, the aroma of the herbs, beef and vegetables felt like a warm, welcoming hug.

Herbed Beef Stew

Herbed Beef Stew

2-3 pound boneless beef pot roast, trimmed of visible fat
1 tblsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. port wine
1 can chicken broth (reduced sodium)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 medium onion, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into wedges
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
2 lbs. carrots, trimmed, scraped, and cut into thirds
2 c. frozen English peas
2 tblsp. tomato ketchup
2 tblsp. cornstarch, water as needed to make slurry
Heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (such as porcelain-coated cast iron or seasoned cast iron), roasting pan, or slow cooker)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
-Heat pot over medium heat till hot; add oil and, when it shimmers, place roast in hot oil. Let the roast brown, and that means don't move it at all till it is crusty and brown and then it will release easily from the pan. Turn and repeat on other side. Remove, place beef on a plate, and set it aside.
-Combine wine, broth, and vinegar. Pour into pot and bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return beef to the pot and pour in any juices that have settled onto the plate.
-Mix together all the seasonings, herbs & spices, and sprinkle over the roast in the pot. Bring all to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven.
-Roast for 2 hours.
-Add 1 cup hot water and all the vegetables; salt & pepper lightly, cover pot and return to oven.
-Roast for 1 hour until the vegetables are tender. 
-Remove the vegetables and beef from the pot, leaving the broth behind. (I put it all in a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.)
-Stir in the ketchup, cornstarch slurry, and frozen peas. Place over medium heat and bring to simmer, stirring till thick and clear. Adjust seasoning. (That means add more salt and/or pepper if needed to your taste.)
-Cut beef into serving-size pieces and return it and the vegetables to the gravy. Gently stir to coat. Serve. Enjoy!

Lashing bamboo for a pea support

Althea buds swelling on a warm February day

No comments: