I loved winter as a kid, and now that I have a kid I love winter again, but during the in-between years winter and I were not friends. Now, I love playing with my daughter in the snow and the hours spent on a toboggan, and even how she “helps” me shovel the driveway. Even more than that, though, I love the comfort food that comes with winter: hearty soups and stews that really warm you up inside. The smell of a pot of stew on the stove or in my slow cooker, especially if it’s my all-time favourite stew to fight winter’s chill — Hey! I can still fight it! — makes me want to cuddle up with my daughter under a blanket and watch Frozen for the eleventy-billionth time.
There is something about a hot, hearty meal on the stove that just makes me feel completely at peace in my home. I think it goes back to being at my grandmother’s house–she was always baking something, so the smell of food cooking or baking makes me feel love, and loved. Also probably explains my love of eating, but I digress.
I’m not as big on baking as Nana was because it’s too exact a science for me; I prefer the willy-nilly recipe-changing creativity that cooking a meal brings. To me, the main ingredients are the guts, the rest are just suggestions and I really enjoy experimenting with flavours.
And now you’re all the lucky recipients of my all-time favourite stew; it takes a while to prep and cook, but trust me when I tell you it is worth the effort! It’s also freezable, but don’t take it out and let it thaw gradually–the ice melting makes it watery. Put it in the microwave first, to flash-thaw it, then right into a big pot.
I originally received a version of this recipe years ago from somewhere, but I’ve changed it over the years to include the flour, red wine, worchetsrhjifufjnckjsnnjshire sauce, and peas. It was a little bland to begin with, and the added flavours really bring out the individual flavours.
I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!!
- 2 lb (1 kg) stewing beef, cubed into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks
- 2 Tbsp. (30ml) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. (15ml) vegetable or olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sweet onions, chopped
- 1 rib celery, sliced
- 1 can (5 oz/156 mL) tomato paste
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) beef stock
- 1/4 cup (50ml) dry red wine (optional)
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 large potatoes, Yukon Gold preferred, peeled and cubed
- Salt/pepper to taste
- 1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas, rinsed in cold water
- Toss the beef in a bowl with the flour.
- Heat olive oil in large, deep pot; add beef and sauté until seared on all sides.
- Take beef out of the pot, and pour in the red wine to lift any beef and flour remnants from the bottom of the pot (use beef stock if not using red wine).
- Add garlic, onions and celery and simmer on medium heat for five minutes.
- Add tomato paste and stir to mix thoroughly.
- Cook additional five minutes, then return the beef to the pot and add the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, and potatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper as desired, and cover and simmer on low heat until beef and vegetables are tender.
- Add peas and simmer additional 10 minutes. Stew will thicken as it cools.
- Serves 6 to 8.
- If you want a thicker stew, get a quarter cup of hot water and add 1-2 Tbsp. (15-30ml) of flour to it (add more to make thicker, if needed). Whisk quickly to remove any lumps, and pour the mixture back into the pot of stew and stir thoroughly. This recipe is excellent for slow cookers, and no need to brown the beef first!
- GLUTEN-FREE OPTION! Substitute tomato paste for flour as a thickener!