I love winter. And no, it’s not because I am particularly athletic or outdoorsy. Don’t get me wrong, I like going outside, and maybe hiking through the woods, but please don’t put me on a ski hill or ice rink because I’ll fall and cause a scene and probably break a bone and definitely embarrass myself. I love winter because cold weather=comfort food. After all, it just doesn’t seem right eating a steamy bowl of stew in the summer.
Part of what makes stew so awesome, is the same thing that makes soup so amazing: it’s a great fridge cleaner. Like today, my in-laws are coming over and I’m making stew. I know, I know, stew isn’t fancy. But who cares when it’s so delicious? You would never catch me complaining at a dinner party if the host served some killer soup or stew. It’s cozy and warm and satisfying and perfect for cold winter evenings with a great bottle of IPA and some thickly crusty bread and butter. Oh, and maybe a chunk of old cheddar. Yeah, that’d be allll right. And tonight’s meal choice is a huge plus for me: my food share box is coming and I’m desperate to make a little room in the produce area of my fridge. So, I have these mushrooms that are threatening to turn on me at any moment, and also these carrots that are looking a little sad and needy. And you know what? I’ll use them. I’ll just toss them in and no one will ever know that they’re next toss would’ve been in the food waste.
You can really add any veg to a stew. Just keep in mind that ones that are best eaten raw (like cucumbers and lettuces) are probably better served on the side, and colourful veggies (like beets, or purple carrots) will colour the stew, so if you would prefer your stew to not take on a strange greyish hue, leave those out (#askmehowIknow).
Beef Stew (aka The Fridge Cleaner)
4 cups beef broth
1 tall boy of your favorite beer (I like using stouts but ales are great too)
4 lbs stew beef
1 6oz can of tomato paste, homemade if you have
¼ cup flour
2 onions, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 lbs baby potatoes, whole
salt and pepper
½ bag frozen peas
And for today’s fridge cleaning add-ins I’m including:
3 carrots, sliced
1 8oz package cremini mushrooms, sliced, including stems
2 small turnips, peeled and cubed
Sometimes my fridge cleaning is more intensive, but if I’m only worrying about two or three veggies, I feel pretty good about things #winning.
Here’s what I do:
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large Dutch oven, toss beef with flour. Then stir in tomato paste. Pour in the broth and beer, then add the potatoes, garlic, onions, and whatever fridge cleaners you want. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Once the stew is bubbling, transfer the pot to the oven and cook, covered, for 3 hours.
Stir in peas, taste, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Allow to sit, covered on stove top for 10 minutes to allow for the peas to warm.
Bon appetit! (and enjoy that much emptier crisper!)