Saturday, February 18, 2012

Simple beef stew

Easy-peasy, I promise!  All from simple, whole ingredients, with plenty of options to make it your own.
I used:
Pastured beef, about a pound cut into bite-size pieces (substitute a pound of ground bison if you can't get pastured beef, many stores carry this)
a hunk of salt pork, diced (substitute bacon or bacon grease)
a medium onion, cut into large dice
5-6 cloves garlic, sliced or minced, your choice
2 quarts broth, home-made or store bought organic (I used chicken because that is what I had)
At least three colorful vegetables, cut into large dice.  I used rutabaga, carrots, and chopped collard greens.
a handful of scallions, optional
a bay leaf
oregano (1-2 tsp?)
sage (1 tsp?)
basil (1-2 tsp?)
mushrooms, optional....fresh or dried.  I had some dried shiitakes and oyster mushrooms to use up.

First, fry up the salt pork until browned and a lot of grease renders out.  In a cast iron pan, of course.  (If you don't have a cast iron Dutch oven, use a cast iron frying pan to brown everything, then transfer it to your stainless steel stock pot.  Use some of the broth to get all the good brown bits off the bottom of the frying pan.)  Don't be afraid of the amount of is good for you, and the hearty veggies and meat in this stew will take up a lot of fat without being greasy.  This is a great way to get some good, healthy fats into you and your family.  The proper ration of fat means stable blood sugar and lots of usable energy.  If you are watching your weight, leave the carbs out of the potatoes or pasta.  Trust me, you won't even miss them.  You will get any carbs your body needs from the vegetables  in this stew.
Add the onions and stir occasionally until the onions just begin to brown.  Then add the garlic, and cook a little, just until the garlic "sweats" a bit.
Then add your mushrooms and cook them a bit.  I began this stew by boiling some water at breakfast and pouring it over a bowlful of dried mushrooms.  I set a small plate on top of the bowl to keep the mushrooms submerged...they love to float....and to keep the whole thing warm longer.  Leave them at least a half hour to rehydrate, then drain and trim and cut up to desired sized pieces.
Next came the broth.  Don't worry about using chicken broth in a beef stew if you don't have beef broth.  It is ok.  No one is grading this project except your tastebuds, and I assure you, you will get an A for this one.  A+ if you use beef broth, though. 

While the broth is coming to a simmer, peel and cut up your veggies.  Also add your herbs at this time so they have more simmer time.  You want the broth to simmer at least a few minutes before you add any veggies.  I wanted to intensify the flavor of the chicken broth, so I let it simmer, uncovered, until the level of the liquid had evaporated by an inch or so.  Then I added the rutabaga, carrots, and half a bag of frozen chopped collard greens.
Simmer until the veggies are all cooked, and add salt and black pepper to taste. 
Be sure to make plenty...this one reheats easily and is actually better the next day.   Have you enjoyed a soup made from scratch lately?  Nothin' like it!


  1. All our meals are from scratch. I tried a new chowder a couple nights ago: Chicken and Sweet Potato Chowder.

    I used my own chicken bone broth and chicken, and onion. I gave up growing sweet potatoes here because while they did superbly, all I got was the emptied skins due to voles. So the sweet potatoes were the giant Garnets from River Valley. The milk was raw milk from Upinngil.

    It was pretty good the first night and it's been my lunch for the last couple days. I'll finish it off today.