With the days shorter and the weather crisper, sometimes all you want to do is snuggle down in your blanket and read a good book while a pot of old-fashioned beef stew simmers on the stove top. Unfortunately, my reality this weekend was actually studying for a midterm while periodically checking on the stew, but the outcome was still delicious. The friends I invited for dinner agreed; beef stew is the ultimate winter comfort food. Although a bit nontraditional, I served the stew over the Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto featured on the blog a few weeks ago. The flavors of the two paired perfectly. However, this stew would be just as good served over plain rice, or with a hunk of crusty bread. The recipe itself is quite simple and quick to prepare, but you must be willing to stay near the kitchen for three hours to make sure the pot doesn't boil over.
1 3/4 lbs beef stew meat
Olive oil (around 1/4 cup)
Couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar
16 oz can of tomatoes
2 cups diced carrots
1 medium diced onion
Around 3 cups beef stock (plus extra)
One bay leaf
16 oz can of garbanzo beans
3 cups chopped kale
1. In a saute pan, working in small quantities, brown the beef stew meat in olive oil. You don't need to cook it all the way through, cook just until you can see no more red on the outside.
2. Set the cooked beef aside, and deglaze the saute pan with the vinegar, scraping with a spatula to get all the crispy bits.
3. Pour this olive oil and vinegar mixture into a big pot (I used a cast iron crock pot). Add the beef, pour in the can of tomatoes, layer the carrots and onions on top, then pour the beef stock on top until it covers anything. Add the bay leaf.
4. Bring the stew to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid, set on a bit crooked to let a bit of steam escape.
5. Cook for around two and a half hours, until the meat is tender.
6. Add the kale and the can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained. Stir to submerge the kale in the liquid, and add more beef stock if needed. Simmer for another thirty minutes.
7. Take off the heat and serve.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011