The weather in the Upper Midwest has abruptly turned cooler. It is October and we have to expect the 80 degree stuff to end, but this cold snap was quick! 25 degree temperature change from one day to the next. I hope we don’t have to see snowflakes before we head back to Florida in two weeks
The cooler weather made me want to prepare a more hearty meal and Beef Stew felt perfect. And, when I added up the ingredients, the calorie count per bowl is only 370! Not bad for this much goodness.
When planning to have stew, you need plenty of time, since it takes around three hours of cooking to get the beef nice and tender. Start with some good lean beef. I found some Angus Beef stew meat that was perfectly cubed, at the local grocery.
First step is to slightly brown the beef. Add 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a stew pot and heat on high until the oil is very hot. I use my laser infrared thermometer and add the beef when the temperature is near 400 degrees. I’ve got 2 pounds of meat here and I added it all at once. After about three minutes of browning, the moisture in the beef came out and created a foam that essentially killed any charring effect. It would have been better to brown the meat on a hot skillet in smaller batches. I was thinking of doing that, but that would be another pan to wash. I’m a guy and don’t like washing dishes and the cleanup part. I’m not sure that the flavor would be much different doing it this way since the beef will still have to simmer for three hours.
Once the meat is browned (5 or 6 minutes), throw in 2 cups of beef broth, 2 whole large garlic cloves, one medium diced onion and 2 fresh bay leaves. Also add the spices: 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp paprika and a dash of allspice. That’s really all you need for spices. The added carrots, celery and potatoes add their own flavors to the stew and make it delicious. Cover your stew pot and simmer for two hours.
In the meantime, chop 4 or 5 medium carrots and 3 large celery stalks into bite-sized pieces. I just washed the carrots and didn’t peel the skin off. I think it just gives you a little more flavor this way. Peel 2 medium russet potatoes and cut them into small cubes, (about 3/8 to 1/2 inch pieces. This is a personal preference because I don’t like big pieces of potato in a stew). Throw all the vegetables into the pot and I added another 1/2 to 1 cup of broth. Simmer for another 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes you’ll want to thicken the broth with cornstarch. Take 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and dissolve it into 1/3 cup of water. I just use a fork to do this. Next, ladle about a cup of the hot broth slowly into the cornstarch mixture while stirring. Once well combined, pour the cornstarch into the pot and stir. Bring the pot to a slight boil to thicken the broth. This will take about 4 or 5 minutes. Taste the stew to make sure it is to your liking. I didn’t have to add any more spices to the stew I made. The salt and flavor was great. Remove the bay leaves and the garlic (if you can find it)!
We enjoyed our stew with some of Mary Jo’s delicious rye bread!
This recipe makes about 7 servings and is a stick to your ribs 370 calories per bowl. Makes a very tasty, healthy meal. Try it next time you need something to warm you up.