Friday, December 16, 2011


As promised, here is a real entry. Its a bit retro(active) since I made this on Sunday and ate it for dinner at work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It's also a totally retro, old-time beef stew kinda recipe. Complete with cast iron skillet and all!

My favorite part of this recipe, silly as it may sound, is that I really made it for one. The recipe made three servings- three true servings- not four or six but I gorged myself on larger servings or froze half. This is something that can be really hard to do. When I cook something for one, too much work for one night's dinner is frustrating but more than three nights means I get sick of the dish (unless it's pizza). Three is my magic number and since I work three days a week, three servings of something I know will reheat well sets me up for a great dinner at work.

I've never made beef stew, so did a quick browse of a bunch of recipes and went from there. I used 3/4 lb of lean stew beef (the other half of the package I made beef barley soup with last week), and just defrosted it in the fridge overnight. I loaded my stew with veggies for bulk without too many calories. The aroma of slow-cooking goodness coming from my cast iron pot made my little city studio feel like down home country cabin. I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, not most of this you should have around the kitchen as it's a lot of spices and such. Now, enough with the chatter, here's the recipe.

Retro Beef Stew
(for 1 + 2 days leftovers... or for 3)

12 oz lean stew beef 
1 small yellow onion, chopped
pinch of dried thyme 
pinch of dried rosemary 
small pinch of red pepper flakes
sprinkle of allspice
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic 
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T tomato paste
3 cups water
4 red potatoes, quarters
3 cups water 
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

1. Heat EVOO in cast iron skillet and brown beef. Season beef with sale and pepper.

2. Add onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, allspice, and bay leaves. Saute for a 1 minute. Add water, Worscestershire, and tomato paste. Season black pepper to taste (if you use salt, remember that the Worcestershire adds sodium too). Simmer with top on pot for about an hour and a half.

 3. After simmering the beef, it should be fragrant and the beef should be very tender. (Stew beef is lean so unless it's slow cooked, it will be tough).  A significant amount of water will have been reduced.

3. Add potatoes,  celery, carrots, green peppers, and mushrooms. Add more water if necessary, but the stew should be pretty thick.

4. Return lid to pot and simmer another 45 minutes, or until all veggies are tender.

5. Add peas and cook uncovered just until peas are defrosted (this will retain the bright green color). If you are making the recipe to reheat, just add frozen peas and remove from stove.

6. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with a salad and crust bread. Or, in my case, at work with an apple and pretzels. (working night shift will totally destroy your eating habits).

Mmm... wintry comfort food goodness without totally breaking the calorie bank. You could also make this in a slow cooker, but that is one of those appliances I have omitted for the sake of space saving. There's very little work involved in this dish. Simmering low and slow is the name of the game for high flavor  reward here.

Oh, and if you are new to cast iron like me, this is a great dish to use to help season your cast iron. More on that in another entry though!

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