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Thursday, May 20, 2010

beef stew over mashed potatoes-- a staple

as it happens, it can be 55 degrees and raining well into may here in seattle. thus, beef stew season lingers. i make this all the time (really-- all.the.time.), but i'm just now getting around to posting about it.

i first tried this recipe in 2002 when i was taking an evening course in landscape design at the local college. i came into class one day and a friendly classmate asked, "hey, how are you?" i responded, like a complete dork, "I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW MUCH I LIKE THE STEW I MADE TONIGHT!" she smiled and shifted away from the crazy stew lady and i spent the rest of class daydreaming about my new creation.

i've tried several other beef stew recipes, but i keep coming back to this one. the original came from 

by the way, this takes 3+ hours, so start early!

beef stew with mashed potatoes
from hearty beef stew with green peas and carrots, epicurious 2001 
serves 4

1 lb organic, grass-fed stew beef
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbps flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1  bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme (more if using fresh)
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3/4 cup frozen peas

in large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. sprinkle beef with salt and freshly cracked pepper. add beef, in batches if necessary, to the pot and brown on all sides, adding more oil if need be. (color equals flavor, so resist the urge to stir the meat. let the sides get a good sear on them before you turn them over.) remove meat from pot and set aside.

reduce heat to medium. add chopped onion to pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. add garlic and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and the liquid has been reduced. (mushrooms let off a ton of liquid when they hit heat, so cook until that has been reduced. if using dried, reconstitute by soaking in hot water for about 20 minutes and add to the stew when you add the beef.) stir in flour and cook, stirring, about one minute. add wine and deglaze pan, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom. add broth, bay leaves, thyme, and beef. bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. cook at a low simmer for about 2 1/2 hours until beef is tender. (ideally it will be very soft and pull apart easily.)

add carrots and peas to pot and cook another 30 minutes until carrots are cooked through. (carrots can also go in earlier.) taste and season with salt and pepper. 

serve over mashed potatoes. (my "recipe" below.)

mashed potatoes

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes

2 and/or 3 of the following:
sour cream
salt and pepper

peel potatoes and chop into large chunks. add to a pot and cover with cold water. (cold water important for even cooking.) add about a 1/2 tsp or so salt to cooking water. bring to a boil and cook until you can get a fork through them easily. 

drain and return to pot with some of the cook water still on them. mash. stir in milk, butter, buttermilk, sour cream (some combination, depending on what you have on hand) and salt and pepper until they taste the way you want. i like to overseason slightly just to make sure they stand up under the stew.


grass-fed beef and cal white potatoes from olsen farms 
mushrooms, dried porcinis, from foraged and found edibles 
chicken stock made from stokesberry sustainable farm chicken
frozen peas from our freezer, last fall's preservation


  1. Looks so yummy! I'm afraid it's too HOT and HUMID here to make this dish, but I do in the winter. I put it over grits also.
    I get them from the Agrirama in Tifton, GA.
    they are stone ground and take a long time to cook. you have to rinse the chaffe from them well first. Polenta, basically.

  2. as i was posting i thought, man, this is gonna make the folks back home in the 90 degree weather *cringe!*

    i never thought about having it over grits-- that's a fantastic idea! i've been meaning to start cooking some grits again, and polenta-- maybe some veggie stews or ragouts... if it ever warms up, that is...

  3. YUM - that looks fabulous even in 110-degree iraq! my favorite addition to that is a little bit of bacon or salt pork - i dice and saute before i cook the beef, remove, and use the rendered fat instead of oil to sear the meat, and then sprinkle over the top before serving. healthy, not so much, but so tasty.

    the polenta comment got me thinking about braised lamb shanks ... basically the same process as above except for the addition of a can of diced tomatoes and i usually don't put in peas/carrots. a splash of balsamic with the broth rounds out the flavors nicely as well. such a winning dish, that one.

  4. it's been said over and over again-- bacon makes everything better!

    ya know, i keep trying to like lamb, but i'm beginning to convince myself that i'm just not into it. which is quite surprising, since i'll eat just about anything! balsamic in the broth, though-- that's a great idea!