Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beef Stew for Two

About two years ago I changed my eating habits.  Real food, as unprocessed as possible, from local sources, prepared from scratch.  I can't eat like that every day, but I do try my hardest.

About one year ago I decided to go completely vegan for a while.  I have to admit, it's easier to do in the summer when I'm not craving warm, hearty comfort foods.  I don't identify as vegan or vegetarian, though that's mostly how I cook at home when I'm by myself.  I still eat chicken and red meat occasionally, especially when local, grass fed beef is available at the Winter Market here in Saco, ME.

*For any vegetarians out there reading, this is definitely a meat lover's post.  Bacon and beef.    

I took a beef stew recipe from a Food Network magazine and adapted it to what I had in the kitchen and to serve only two people.  Here's the original recipe, with the adaptations I made in orange:

Beef Stew

You'll need:
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped (2 slices nitrate/nitrite free bacon)
  • 3 pounds beef chuck cut into 2'' pieces and patted dry (1 lb Harris Farm beef stew pieces)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped finely (1/2 yellow onion chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 clove garlic, chopped)
  • 1 t dried thyme (1/4 t dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups dry red wine (1 cup)
  • 3 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick (1 large carrot sliced)
  • 3 T butter (1 T)
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered (1 carton sliced mushrooms)
  • 1 pound bag frozen pearl onions, thawed, patted dry (1/3 bag boiling onions, boiled)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
2. In a dutch oven, I used my Le Creuset dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon until fat starts rendering in the bottom of the pan.  Transfer to a plate, leaving the bacon fat in the bottom of the pan
3. Immediately add stew meat to the same dutch oven and cook about 8 minutes or until well browned.  Transfer to a plate.
4. Add yellow onion, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened.  Add the beef and bacon, sprinkle with flour, and season with salt and pepper, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
5. Stir in the wine and water and bring to a boil.  
6. Cover the dutch oven, and transfer to the oven to cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes (1:45).  
7. Stir in the carrots and cook 30 more minutes.  
8. During this 30 minutes, boil your onions and pop them out of the skins (this was the most entertaining part of making this stew).  
9. Melt your butter in a skillet and add mushrooms, cooking until browned.  Add onions to the same skillet, brown a bit, then add mushrooms and onions to the dutch oven, cooking 10 more minutes.  
10. When you're spooning out stew into serving bowls, find the bay leaf and take it out.  No one wants to chomp on that.  

Enjoy with some quality, crusty bread!

This is one of those recipes that you kind of have to be in the kitchen the entire time, and the cook time is about 3 hours when you add it all up.  I did this on a weekend night and just studied in the kitchen when I wasn't doing any of these steps.  

This was so good that I was craving the leftovers the next day.  We did have a tiny bit leftover.  I loved this recipe and will certainly be making it again come October when it starts to get chilly!

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