We had this last night for dinner. Finally! After craving it for two weeks, I actually got the chance to make some. This is a very basic, old fashioned recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. But, like almost all recipes around here, we use it as guidebook, with good suggestions, more than the code of cooking law. The veges you use in this stew, as well as the amount you choose is a matter of taste. Sometimes we'll add turnips or rutabeggas or whatever leftovers we have on hand that look good. The cut of beef is also variable. We found an especially good deal on London Broil at our awesome small town General Store ($1.99 a pound!), so felt free to simmer up a double batch. But, any cut works, really. The cheaper the better.
There is almost no more wonderful, comforting aroma than beef and onions and garlic drifting through the house on a crisp November afternoon. And, boy oh boy, did it taste good!
(This is for you, Laura!)
2 pounds stew beef (whatever you have on hand that's not expensive)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped (optional ~ my gang doesn't like cooked celery))
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer. To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.
For the crockpot, brown the meat and prep the veges the night before or early in the morning; make the broth and start simmering the beef whenever you like, but don't add the veges until within 2 to 3 hours of serving ~ unless you don't mind them being very mushy. Add the cornstarch within an hour or so of serving, for best results.
(This recipe makes about 6 servings.)