Monday, December 7, 2009

Recipe Roundup: Incredible, Easy Beef Stew

My mom always made beef stew when I was growing up and it was one of my favorite meals. This, despite the fact that I'm not much of a meat eater. I guess the thing about stew is that it is impossible to resist such a great dish - warm, fragrant, chock full of vegetables, awesome gravy. Yum!

A few weeks ago, Jamie Oliver appeared on Good Morning America and shared his recipe for stew. He structured it so that you could adapt it for chicken, pork, lamb or beef and it looked so easy that I made a note of it to try it when the weather seemed cold enough to warrant a big pot of it. Then, while reading through the December issue of Cooking Light, I saw another recipe for beef stew. I decided to merge the two recipes and come up with my own hybrid, mainly based on Jamie's.

Here's his original recipe:

Jamie Oliver's Basic Stew


  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 x 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 pound diced stewing beef (I kept my pieces pretty big, actually)
  • 2 cups brown ale, Guinness or stout

  • If using the oven to cook your stew, preheat it to 350°F. Trim the ends off your celery and roughly chop the stalks. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel the carrots, slice lengthways, and roughly chop. Put a Dutch oven on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables and your chosen herb into the pan with 2 lugs of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes. Add you meat and flour. Pour in the booze and canned tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season with a teaspoon of sea salt (less if using table salt) and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and either simmer slowly on your cooktop or cook in an oven for the times shown above. Remove the lid for the final half hour of simmering or cooking and add a splash of water if it looks a bit dry. When done, your meat should be tender and delicious. Remove any bay leaves or herb stalks before serving, and taste it to see if it needs a bit more salt and pepper.

    I added:
    1 4-ounce package of baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    half a pound (maybe more), baby gold potatoes, cut into quarters
    1 more cup of beer (in my case, oatmeal stout)

    And I simmered the stew in a big heavy pot for four hours instead of the three hours Jamie called for. The finished dish, which we shared with Mr. and Mrs. Meyer, was divine. I can't wait to make it again.

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