FARMHOUSE BEEF STEW
There is nothing quite so warming and restorative on a blustery night as a big bowl of rich, flavorful beef stew.
It satisfies the sense from the browning of the meat to the simmering of the corn. By the time the steaming
bowls are set on the table, spoons are poised to scoop it up.
This stew is based on one served to us by Linda Stoltzfus in Millersburg, Pennsylvania. Linda, her mother,
and her sister get together each fall to can their flavorful stew, using the last harvest from the garden,
trapping its golden flavors in each jar. Until then I'd viewed beef stew with ho-hum interest, but my attitude changed after that hearty bowlful.
The secret to a good stew is simple. It must be made with well-browned good-quality beef (I like to include shinbones
because the marrow adds a depth of flavor), sweet onions and carrots, a dot of marjoram for background flavor, and a
good seasoning of paprika, all of which must be cooked together slowly. About half an hour before serving, the
vegetables and potatoes are added so they cook through but still retain their fresh, sprightly taste, and so the potatoes
hold their shape. Right at the end a sprinkling of fresh corn kernels add their sweetness and soft golden color.
Drink lightly chilled beer or a simple red table wine along with this stew.
8 to 10 servings
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2 pounds boneless stewing beef, such as chuck
2 pounds center-cut shinbone
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as safflower
2 small onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick lengthwise slices
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
5 to 6 cups water
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes or 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram leaves, or 3/4 teaspoon dried
10 black peppercorns
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup hearty red wine (optional)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
||Cut the stewing beef into 1-inch chunks. Trim the meat from the shinbones and cut it into similar-size pieces.|
||Mix the flour with salt and pepper to taste on a piece of waxed paper. Dredge the beef and the bones in the flour mixture.|
||Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot but not quite smoking, brown the beef and the bones on all sides
until the pieces turn an even rich color, 8 to 10 minutes; do this in small batches so the
pan isn’t crowded, adding more oil as needed. Transfer the meat and the bones to a plate.
Add the onions and carrots to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables
are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the water and stir, scraping up any
browned bits. Remove the skillet from the heat.|
||Place the beef, bones, onions, carrots, and their cooking juices in a 12-quart stockpot.
Add the tomatoes and enough of the remaining water to cover. Then add the bay leaves, paprika,
half the marjoram, and the peppercorns; bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium partially
cover the pot, and simmer until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to
prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot.|
||Add the green beans, potatoes, and the remaining marjoram, stirring them into the stew.
Add the wine if desired. If the stew is very thick, add some more water – the mixture should be liquid
enough to cook the beans and potatoes. Continue cooking, partially covered, until the potatoes are
tender, about 30 minutes. Add the corn and cook just until it is hot through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste.|
Excerpted from FARMHOUSE COOKBOOK copyright © 1991 Susan Herrmann Loomis.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.