It was a night for beef stew.
I picked up a pound (1/2 kg) of stewing beef and a rutabaga (“yellow turnip”) the size of my two fists together. Onions and potatoes were in the dry bin, dry thyme from the garden and other spices were on the shelf, and carrots were in the cooler. Dinner grew like this:
- In a 3 quart (litre) saucepan, melted a half-Tablespoon of organic, scentless coconut oil over medium heat. (It’ll handle the higher temperatures than olive oil without smoking, though I still prefer olive oil.)
- When hot, added 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. (Remarkable health benefits. Black pepper is essential to the stew, but the turmeric not so much. I like it, and use it a lot.)
- Carefully placed the beef cubes into the seasoned oil. (No splashing!) The beef carmelized because I didn’t move it until it was ready to be turned to brown on the other side. When browned on at least two sides, started adding the rest.
- Sliced a large carrot into 1/8″ thick rounds and added it to the pot.
- Rinsed, peeled, and cut the rutabaga into 3/4″ cubes and added to the pot.
- Rinsed and cut a potato into 3/4″ cubes and added to the pot. (Baking russets will break down quickly, and red potatoes will hold their shape longer, so it’s your choice.)
- Added just enough water to not quite cover it all, stirring up the tasty browned meat bits from the bottom with a wood spatula. Brought that up to a boil, then turned the heat down to a simmer. I found the pot’s lid!
- Added around a teaspoon of dried thyme. (Essential to a good beef stew!) Added a good sprinkle of organic ground ginger. (I like ginger’s bite, but had to settle for something gentler because I forgot to get some ginger root. The fresh root would be peeled, sliced, and fried a bit with the onion and garlic.)
- Topped, tailed, and peeled a large onion, and cut into 3/4″ dice.
- In the cast iron frypan on medium heat, melted a half teaspoon of coconut oil, and added some more turmeric and black pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon each. When hot, added the onion to cook until translucent, even a little golden brown.
- While the onion cooked, smashed and chopped maybe four cloves of garlic (there are between 6 and 12 cloves on a head of garlic, so use the amount you like), and tossed them into the onion when half done. (If you only have garlic powder, add it to the stew directly, without browning; the fine powder will get bitter if browned.)
- When the onions were right, poured about a half cup of water into the pan to release the flavors off the bottom, stirring with the wood spatula, and then poured all of that into the big saucepan.
- Saw three paste tomatoes on the counter, and decided to add them, too… Rinsed, chopped, and tossed them into the pot.
- Another 20 minutes or so of a bubbling simmer, a bit of salt and a touch more pepper, and… Dinner!
It fed two people tonight, and will feed us again tomorrow, though I will likely add a good handful of finely sliced kale to switch it up a bit. I added a spoonful of yogurt to my bowl, just because.
It took about 15 minutes or so of chopping and fussing in the kitchen, and an hour and a bit of cooking time.
Stews are fairly forgiving, as long as you don’t let any one flavor overpower the whole pot. There should be the richness from browning the meat and onions, the bite of pepper and ginger, the savory thyme, the softness of the potato, and the melding of all the vegetables together. If you like peas (fresh or frozen) or whole kernal corn, add them. Substitute turnips for rutabaga? By all means? Use cabbage… well, just a little because it can get skunky if cooked covered! Make it to your taste, and…