Friday, 9 November 2007

The Old Reliable - Beef or Lamb Stew

We are having a very seasonal day today - extremely grey and very damp and cold - just cold enough to snow, but after a full day just starting to stick as the ground is still fairly warm. In other words, it's the perfect day for stew.

I evolved this a few years back in a quest for a healthy stew recipe, but it was also one of my better efforts flavour-wise as well, so this has become my standard stew recipe. Don't let the length of the list of ingredients put you off; it goes together very quickly.

4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

The raw ingredients for a big pot of stewMost of the raw ingredients for the stew set out above.

Beef Stew2 medium onions
4 stalks of celery OR 1 small celery root, peeled
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
450 grams (1 pound) lean stewing beef or lamb
2 cloves of garlic (optional)
3 cups water or fat-free broth
1/4 cup raw barley
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 cups peeled diced rutabaga
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 cup cleaned button mushrooms (halve or quarter if large)
1 540 ml (19 ounce) tin diced or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon savory
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Peel and chop the onions coarsely, chop the celery coarsely as well. Peel and mince the garlic.

In a large skillet, sauté the onions and celery in 2/3 the oil until softened; remove them to a large stew pot. Add the remaining oil, and cook the beef or lamb until browned all over. Stir in the garlic, and after a minute or so remove the meat to the stew pot.

Add the water or broth, the barley and the bay leaves to the stew pot, and turn on the heat. While it comes up to a boil, peel and chop the remaining vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the stew as they are prepared. Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and the seasonings.

Cover the stew, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the stew until the meat is done and the vegetables and the barley are tender. Add a little more water if needed.

This can be made ahead; stew keeps and reheats well. In fact, you will likely find the meat better the second day, as the cooling and reheating process also tenderizes it. The flavours in general will have blended and mellowed as well.


Peter M said...

Ferdzy, it's stews like this one that make winter bearable...bravo!

Tarah said...

Looks like comfort.

Anonymous said...

I have a stupid question: what does Rutabaga taste like? They are terribly ugly creatures and I'll admit - I'm afraid of them. Any insight?

Ferdzy said...

Miss scarlett, they are related to turnips and the taste is likewise related, although not identical. Turnips have a strong, sharp taste. Rutabaga has an equally strong but more earthy taste. They strike a slightly deeper note. It's hard to describe.

They should be cheap enough at this time of year, that if you buy one and decide you don't like it, you won't be out big bucks. They can be eaten raw, but more commonly they are cooked.

Kevin said...

Your stew looks great! With lots of vegetables, just the way I like it.