Wicked Comforting Beef Stew
What’s up y’all?! Anyone else had a C.R.A.Z.Y. week? Like, for real right.
After spending an arguably unhealthy amount of time refreshing links, surfing news sites, opinion and commentary columns, and all things political, I was….drained. Really, really super drained. That web-based injection of division, angst, and negativity, regardless of where you land on the political right or left, is hard on the brain (and the heart).
Thursday morning I woke with little to no ambition at all, and decided to work on the most mindless of photography tasks = transferring files from my mac to my external hard drive (x. see boring). No thought required, no opinion needed. Then, while searching through images, I came across this photograph from earlier this summer in Iten, Kenya.
This is Catherine. She lives with her family in Kenya’s North Western Highlands, just outside of a town called Iten. It’s incredibly lush and beautiful there. Runners from all over the world flock to Iten to train, thanks to its high altitude and fantastic air quality. Future olympians = super awesome.
I visited Catherine with the Hunger Free team (#squadgoals), on a surprisingly cool July morning (Dennis, bring a jacket next time you visit Kenya in winter). We spent the day cooking mutton stew and Ugali (Kenya’s national dish), speaking through a translator and learning about local Kenyan food, culture, and daily life for Catherine, Andrew, and their children. Life in rural Kenya is full of uncertainty. Am I going to eat today? Where is my food coming from? Is my family healthy? What do I do if they’re sick? Real, honest, authentic concern with no easy answers.
Now, I’m by no means suggesting that the Western issues and news over the past few weeks aren’t a cause for conversation. They most certainly are, and running from those conversations will only further add to division. But this image was a reminder of the global concern for food and food access, the things that we can tend to take for granted in Canada and the United States. Are things perfect? No. Do we have a lot to be thankful for? Absolutely.
Through all these (and so many more) internal conversations, the last few days have been a constant state of comfort food love. All the comfort food, all the time. And there’s just about nothing on the planet as comforting as a home-style, braised beef stew. It’s comforting perfection, perfect for cool evenings when a crowd of hungry folks need a little pick-me-up. This dish will take you immediately to comfort land, guaranteed.
Wicked Comforting Beef Stew
Makes 8 to 10 servings
What do I need?
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 pounds beef blade roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 ½ pounds baby (new) potatoes
3 large carrots, cut into 1 1/2 –inch chunks
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
10 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
3 cups beef stock
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon English mustard
¾ cups pickled cocktail onions, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen peas
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Add the beef and toss to coat well. Awesome.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil together. Working in small batches, brown the beef on all sides (about 20 minutes). Take your time here, really letting that beef develop a golden brown crust. Transfer the beef to a plate using a slotted spoon. Set aside.
Melt the remaining butter in the Dutch oven, then add the celery, onion, rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes until the veggies start to soften. Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, scrapping all the brown bites from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. (a MUST. The Delicious Maker).
Add the beef (and any plate juices) back to into the Dutch oven, along with the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir and mix well. Pour in the stock, add the Worcestershire and mustard, and season with a pinch of salt. Give the lot a good stir, and bring it to a boil.
Cover, transfer to the oven, and braise for 45 minutes. Stir in the cocktail onions, place back into the oven, and continue cooking for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the veggies are cooked through and the beef is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Give the stew a taste and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper as needed. Stir in the peas and cook 5 more minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. If you’re like me and have a serious carb love, serve with buttery smashed potatoes.