Humble Beef Stew

Words & Photos by Brandy Tackett

The recent stormy weather makes me feel that autumn is definitely approaching. This is the sort of weather that inspires you to stay indoors, curl up with a good book or movie, and just relax. It also makes me crave a pot of stew, something hearty, rich, and filling – comfort food, in short. So, if the weather keeps you inside, or you simply feel the urge for something tasty at home, give this recipe a try.

Humble Beef Stew
Humble Beef Stew

Prep time – 45 minutes
Cook time – 3-8 hours (depending on your cooker)
Yield – about 6-8 meals

What you’ll need (kitchenware):
Skillet
Spatula
Cutting board
Knife
Bowl(s)
Rice cooker or slow cooker

IngredientsWhat you’ll need (ingredients):
Bottom round beef (3-4 lbs, fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch squares)
Potatoes (about 1 lb, cut into 2-inch pieces)
Onions (2 large, sliced and diced)
Carrots (2 cups)
Tomato paste (6 oz)
Beef broth (2 cups)
All-purpose flour (1 cup)
Olive oil (at least 1/3 cup, more as needed)
Dry red wine (1 cup)
Thyme (1 tsp dried leaves)

More info:

  • If you can find beef broth, use it. If not, buy some bouillon cubes in your local store. Usually it’s a small box with a picture of a cow, labeled コンソメ (consommé). Place one cube in 2 cups of warm water and mix until dissolved.
  • For the wine, I used a cheap (¥400) Cabernet Sauvignon – only because whatever didn’t go in the pot was going in my glass. Any dry red wine will work, though – Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, whatever.
  • If you want to add peas or some other veggie to the stew, bear in mind what you’re tossing. Peas, for instance, should be added at the very end. If you’re tossing in anything other than root vegetables, you’ll probably want to wait to add them.

Procedure:

Step 1 – Cutting the meat and veg. Trim the fat from the beef and cut into squares. Chop the veggies into fair-sized chunks.

Browning the meat 2Browning the meat 1Step 2 – Heat a few tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the beef in flour. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time. This should take about 1-2 minutes for each batch. Be careful not to overcook the meat. As it’s cooked, transfer each batch directly into your rice cooker or slow cooker.

 

Cooking the onionsStep 3 – Turn the heat down to medium, throw in the onions, and cook until tender. Roughly 6-8 minutes.

Step 4 – Stir in the tomato paste, coating the onions, cook for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer this to your cooker pot.

 

Deglazing

Step 5 – Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up those tasty browned bits. Add this to the cooker pot.

 

Before cookingStep 6 – Add the potatoes, carrots, broth, thyme, and the optional salt and bay leaf. Stir well (but carefully).

 

Half-way doneStep 7 – Cover the pot or close the lid. If you are using a slow cooker, you can cook the stew on low for about 7-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. If you are using a rice cooker (what I used), cook it on the white rice setting (白米 – hakumai) for about 3 hours.

Step 8 – Pour a glass of wine. Relax. Wait for a delicious, hearty meal.