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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mom's Beef and Potato Stew

SEP 1, 2010

All family cooks have their own version of beef stew. Mine evolved over time as I tried to feature the ingredients everyone likes most -- the beef and potatoes -- and hide the ones that weren't greeted as warmly: the carrots, celery and onion. My solution was to cut the vegetables into small cubes that almost melt into the sauce. The vegetables are still there, but what stands out are the chunks of beef and potatoes.

I start the stew on the stove, then transfer it to the oven to cook slowly. That technique solves a few problems. First, it gets the pot off the stove so I can either cook something else or clean up. Second, the meat becomes tender and stays moist because it remains covered. Third, I don't have to worry about evaporation: The covered pot doesn't allow the liquid to reduce.

Like most stews, this is a go-to dish that's just as good after a day or two or when defrosted later. You can serve it over rice or noodles, or just as is, with a green salad.

The recipe calls for double-concentrated tomato paste, which comes in a tube and can be found in the Italian section of most supermarkets.

Make Ahead: The stew can be made 2 to 3 days in advance and stored; or it can be portioned into freezer containers, cooled and frozen until ready to serve. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.


Yield: Makes 10 to 11 cups


2 to 3 tablespoons mild olive or vegetable oil
2 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 medium ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup, 4 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste (see headnote)
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, or more to taste
2 cups lager-style beer, or beer of your choice (16 ounces)
Freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes (If you are cutting the meat into cubes yourself, buy 3 pounds to allow for trimming)
1 cup water, or more as needed
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions start to soften. Add the carrots, celery and salt. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat so the vegetables soften and brown lightly but do not burn. Stir in the tomato paste; cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour, stirring to distribute it evenly. Add the mustard, brown sugar, beer and salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine. Once the mixture starts to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to low.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add as many of the beef cubes as will fit without crowding them. Brown the cubes, adjusting the heat so the meat does not burn. As the cubes are ready, transfer them to the pot or Dutch oven.

Repeat with the remaining cubes, adding oil as needed. When all of the beef has been browned and has been transferred, increase the heat under the skillet to high and add the water. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to loosen any browned bits.

Transfer the liquid in the skillet to the pot or Dutch oven; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then add the potatoes. Cover and slow-roast for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Let it sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Taste the braising liquid and add salt, pepper or brown sugar as needed. Serve immediately; or cool, then refrigerate or freeze as desired.


From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

Nutritional Facts
Calories per serving (based on 8): 450
% Daily Values*
Total Fat: 20g 31%
Saturated Fat: 6g 30%
Cholesterol: 90mg 30%
Sodium: 280mg 12%
Total Carbohydrates: 33g 11%
Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%
Sugar: 7g
Protein: 30g

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