Saturday, January 5, 2013

SOUPer saturdays - country french beef stew

One of several of my New Year's resolutions...  Use the crockpot more.

I am a huge fan of being able to smell supper before I get the key in the door at the end of the day.  It's welcoming, it's comforting, it's home.  And considering we have a two-parent working family, the crockpot is the only thing that's going to make that happen for the Greens.

I got three new cookbooks for Christmas, one full of only soups and stews.  When making out my meal plan for the week, I had my sights set on a hearty beef stew, but was hoping with each turn of the page I'd find something a little different to set it apart from my regular go-to.  This one did not disappoint.

Full of rich flavor, heartiness, and - my favorite - ease, I was an instant fan of this recipe.  I suggest serving it over egg noodles making sure to include a ladle of broth over the top of it all.  A sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley and shaved parmesan adds the perfect ending!  Within 30 minutes of coming home, you'll have a table full of happy people.

Heads up, friends.  Stew's on!

Country French Beef Stew - makes 12 servings
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 lb). trimmed of fat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 cups ready-to-serve baby carrots
  • 1 cup red cooking wine
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 package (8 oz) sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes (I used oil-packed)
  • hot cooked egg noodles (optional)
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
~ Spray 5 or 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  In skillet, cook bacon over medium-
    high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  
~ Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces and place in cooker.
~ Discard all but 1 tbsp. bacon fat in skillet.  Cook beef in fat 2-3 minutes, stirring 
    occasionally until brown but not cooked through.  
~ Stir onion into beef and cook one minute.  Spoon beef and onions into cooker.
~ Deglaze skillet with the broth, scraping up any browned bits left on pan.  Pour into the 
~ Add cooking wine, flour, basil, thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, canned diced tomatoes, 
    and sun-dried tomatoes into pot.  Stir.
~ Sprinkle mushrooms over the top and pour some juice mixture from the pot over the 
~ Cook on low 7 to 8 hours.
~ Serve over egg noodles, if desired, and garnish with parsley and cheese.  

Tips and Tricks:

  • When buying chuck roasts, I try to keep my eyes open for "marked down for quick sale" options.  I happened to find this one already cubed for stew use, which made it even easier.
  • While I was preparing all the ingredients, I sprinkled the uncooked meat with coarse salt and ground pepper and set aside to boost the flavor.
  • A non-stick skillet will work fine to cook the meat and onions, but it doesn't lend itself well to leaving browned bits or any caramelization for the deglazing to work.  It certainly will do just fine, though, so if preferred, use the non-stick, skip the deglazing, and just throw all the ingredients into the pot after the onions have been added to the skillet and have cooked for the one-minute suggestion.

Recipe adapted from Soups and Stews, 100 Recipes for the Way You Really Cook.

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