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Are you caught in the “Polar Vortex”? Is it rainy and cold, snowy and cold, just plain cold? Then this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Beef Stew is perfect!
I love my beef stew. My father used to make his own version(s) of it while I was growing up, taking everything he could find in the refrigerator and throwing it into a pot with some browned meat, water or broth, ketchup or tomato sauce, whatever he felt like that particular day. It was generally good, certainly edible, but never the same. And sometimes, it was only edible.
This recipe for Roasted Vegetable Beef Stew came about because I was late making dinner. I had all the ingredients as I was planning on making stew, but time got away from me while running errands and I didn’t have time to slow-cook my stew meat into lovely tenderness in the oven as I generally do. Beef Stew for me is about browning meat with onions and garlic, adding some herbs and spices, red wine, beef broth, then putting in a 325º oven for at least an hour before adding my vegetables; in batches, to cook to being perfectly tender. Now, I did not have the 2 hours or more needed to make my stew, I had less than 1 hour. So, what to do?
Well first of all, I turn to my trustee pressure cooker to cook the meat into tenderness. Don’t want to use a pressure cooker? I have some slow cooker ideas for you to use instead, but of course, it won’t take 20 minutes, it will take all day, so you have to plan ahead. But still, the finished stew will be done, with hands on time about the same. Because you will still cook the meat and vegetables separately and combine them at the end.
Roasting the vegetables makes ALL the difference
When making stew I don’t cook all my ingredients at the same time. The meat needs more time than the veggies, the carrots and parsnips need more time than the potatoes (when cooking in liquids but not when roasting); and heaven forbid you should put your tender green beans in at the start, they will be mush. So trying to figure out the timing of getting the meat tender and getting the vegetables into a pressure cooker in batches presented my first problem. You can’t just take the top off the pressure cooker willy nilly anytime you want, you have to release the pressure each time; then you have to bring it back to pressure before you start timing your cooking. So clearly, vegetables and meat cooking together in the pressure cooker was NOT going to work.
So here is what did work; browning and cooking my meat in the pressure cooker while my vegetables roasted in the oven and then, release pressure, stir in veggies and voila! Roasted Vegetable Beef Stew. I loved loved loved the added flavor the caramelized vegetables added to the dish.
When choosing meat for stew, a cheaper cut is the better choice. The meat is going to be braising it until it’s tender, and you want the fat and connective tissue to keep it moist and flavorful. So chuck steak, bottom round, rump roast, shoulder cuts, all good choices. Or you could get the container of the ubiquitous stew meat. Personally I don’t buy prepackaged stew meat because I’m not sure what they decided to put into it that day. I always buy a whole piece of meat and cut it myself. It doesn’t take that long.
When browning the meat, make sure you have seasoned it well, and that the oil is hot. Brown in batches, do not crowd the pan. You want all the meat to be well browned. DO NOT flour the meat before browning it or you are just browning the flour, not the meat, then when the flour cooks off into the sauce, what have you really accomplished? We will add flour later to thicken things up.
For this particular stew I chose some pearl onions (mine were thawed frozen – this is only important to when you add them to the roasting pan), carrots, parsnip, small Yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, and the side of sautéed mushrooms (for the hubby because I love him, but not them). All of these were cut into uniform size (I call this bite-sized). The carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and squash went in first; then I par cooked the green beans, about 5 minutes in boiling water so they were crisp tender and added them the last 10 minutes of baking time along with my previously frozen, now thawed, pearl onions. If your onions were fresh, put them in when you do the carrots and all.
Of course you can use whatever vegetables you like best, although I would tend to stay away from very strong flavored ones such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and veggies like that. But sweet potatoes? Sure. Turnips? Absolutely. Chucks of onion rather that pearl? You betcha. It’s all good.
While your oven is heating up, I don’t know about yours but somedays mine seems to take forever, prep your veggies.
Toss the root vegetables into a bowl with about 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or another oil, and add salt, pepper and a good pinch of herbs de Provence (preferred), Italian Seasonings or even just some dried thyme, basil, oregano and whatever else you like.
Cook the root vegetables in the now hot oven for about 10 minutes, then put your pre-cooked green beans and thawed pearl onions onto the pan (after tossing them in the oil/herbs residue left in the bowl) and cook for about 10 minutes more or until all are tender and browned.
You might ask why I didn’t just roast the green beans from the beginning. I find when you roast green beans until tender, they have a tendency to get fibrous and loose their moisture leaving them less then pleasant in my mouth. Giving them a quick plunge into boiling water, for about 5 – 7 minutes or until they are just tender, rinsing them under cold water, to stop the cooking process, and THEN putting them into the seasoned oil and roasting them gave them the all the roasted flavor but left the integrity of the green bean in tack. Make sense?
While the oven is heating up and you are prepping your veggies, heat your pressure cooker (or skillet if making this in a slow-cooker) over medium high heat; season the meat and add some oil to the pot/pan, once hot, brown the meat well on all sides. Once all the been browned,reduce the heat slightly, add the onions and minced garlic to the pot, get them browned NOW this is when we add our flour. Stir the flour into the pot and cook it for about 3 minutes then we return our meat, add our liquids, close the pot and let it cook. For about 20 minutes once it comes to pressure.* Release the pressure via the “natural” method, which means to simply shut it off until the valve says it’s ok to open; open the cooker, stir in your roasted veggies and VOILA!
Season the meat well with salt and pepper. Heat a pot (pressure cooker) over medium high heat, when hot add the oil. Add the meat, in batches (do not crowd or you will only steam the meat, you want to leave a lot of room for it to brown); brown, stirring often and removing the meat to a bowl as it browns. When all the meat is browned, lower the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent then add the flour. Sauté for about 2 - 3 minutes, then add the herbs and wine. Allow the wine to reduce slightly; return the meat to the pot along with any accumulated juices; stir in the beef stock. Place the pressure cooker lid on top (or transfer to your crock pot/slow cooker); and cook, in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes, in the slow cooker for 6 hours.
Heat the oven to 425°F.While meat is cooking, toss your prepared vegetables (add the pearl onions if fresh, omit the green beans) in a large bowl with the oil, salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. Pour onto a foil lined cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray; then place in the oven. Roast, stirring once or twice for 10 minutes.
While the veggies are roasting, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan; add the green beans, cook 5 - 7 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat, drain and rinse under cold running water. Let drain well. Add the green beans and onion (if previously frozen and now thawed) to the bowl with the residual oil from the veggies. Toss well.
After the original vegetables have been cooked for 10 minutes add the green beans and onions; stir well and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until tender.
After 20 minutes turn the heat off under the meat and allow the pressure cooker to come down from pressure. Remove the lid; add the veggies; stir and serve in warmed bowls. Top with chopped parsley, if desired.
If making the optional mushrooms; heat a small sauté pan over medium high heat; add 1 teaspoon total oil or butter or ghee or combo of these; when hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown and they are tender. Stir into whomever's bowl wants them.
*If making this in your crock pot or slow cooker then once you have browned the meat, added the flour and the broth, put in your cooker and cook, on low, for about 6 hours. You will cook your vegetables the same regardless of your method of cooking the meat.
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