We all know silence is golden.
But silence is never such a welcome guest than at a ravenous dinner table.
This beef stew was made on a cold, damp fall day. I took it to my parents’ house to enjoy it with family; everyone came to the dinner table laughing and joking, and as bowls of stew were ladled out and passed around everyone started eating. And you could hear a pin drop.
This stew is straight out of kitchen staples…carrot, celery, onion, and a bit of potato; no fancy ingredients here. I even used frozen peas and canned mushrooms. Of course if you have fresh peas or mushrooms on hand, go ahead and use them!
A Note About the Veggies: When you’re cooking a stew, make sure you cut all the veggies so that the cook in the same amount of time. That doesn’t mean cutting all the veggies the same size, although you should cut all of the same veggie the same size…for example, if you’re cutting the carrots into 1/4-inch buttons, don’t cut some carrots into 2-inch pieces. Because different veggies have different cooking times (for example, potatoes cook quicker than carrots), they need to be handled differently. I like to chop the onion, cube the potatoes, button the carrots, and dice the celery; cooked like this they all take about the same amount of time to cook. Also, when it comes to peeling, I like the rustic look of unpeeled (but thoroughly scrubbed, of course ;) ) veggies in stew (which also helps to retain nutrition, as a lot of nutrients are generally found in the peel of the vegetable); however, you can absolutely peel them if you prefer.
Serves about 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 lb stewing beef, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like to use beef sirloin)
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
About 7-8 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 soft beef-flavored bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb (about 3 medium) onion, chopped
1 lb (about 6-8 medium) carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch buttons
4 large stalks celery, diced
1 medium potato, cubed (I leave the peel on)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour whisked with 1 cup water (optional; to thicken)
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Mashed potatoes or Colcannon (optional; for serving)
In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat the oil on medium-high heat; when the oil starts to ripple, add half the beef and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the browned beef and cook the remaining meat the same way. Add the browned beef back into the pot along with the garlic and rosemary; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the flour and cook 2 minutes, continuing to stir constantly.
Add 6 cups water, the Worcestershire, bouillon cubes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Turn heat up to high and bring the stew up to a boil, then cover the pot, turn heat down to simmer, and let it cook for 60 to 90 minutes (stirring occasionally), or until the meat is tender but not falling apart.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, and potato and enough water to just cover everything (about 1 to 2 cups). Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want your stew even thicker (which is how we like ours), whisk in the flour/water mixture during the last 10 minutes that the veggies are cooking, stirring more frequently after you add this.
Add the mushrooms and peas and cook 5 minutes more; taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot, on top of mashed potatoes or Colcannon, if desired.