Tomorrow is election day and I’m feeling aaaaaaall the feelings. Are you voting? Please vote!
I also had a moment in a restaurant the other day where I thought Calder was choking and proceeded to turn him upside down and rap him on the back (I just took an infant CPR and safety course, because #safetyfirst, so this scenario was fresh on my mind), then sat him in my lap and searched his tiny face — are you breathing? Are you okay? His little eyes looked up at me skeptically (who is this nutter, anyway?) and then his gummy mouth smiled widely, assuring me that he was, actually, just fine and definitely not choking, THANKS MOM.
And then I burst into tears.
…Is this what parenting is? JEEZ.
At any rate, my nerves could use a break, and I’m planning to soothe them with big, steamy bowls of rich and brothy beef stew, yes please.
Chunks of tender beef, creamy potatoes, sweet carrots and mushrooms, swimming in luscious, salty, simmered-for-hours broth — as the weather gets chillier and the rain comes in droves, this is pretty much all I want to eat. And if the election goes poorly (please, please don’t let it go poorly, America!), at least dinner will taste good? That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.
Let’s do this, people. Beef stew for democracy!
Rich Beef Stew
I happened to have some bacon fat in the refrigerator, so used it here to brown the beef. If you don’t have any, you can use olive oil instead. If you have your heart set on some bacon-y flavorings, try browning some bacon until crisp, then let it drain and use the drippings to flavor the stew – then add the bacon back in at the end. Whoa.
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat (can substitute olive oil)
- 2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into bite-sized cubes
- big pinch each kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup port (can substitute red wine or red wine vinegar, if you like)
- 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the bacon fat (or oil) over high heat.
Brown the beef cubes in two batches, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, until the pieces are nicely brown and caramelized. Scoop out the browned beef with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate – set aside.
Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan and cook them in the beef drippings, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, and continue to cook until softened, another 5 minutes or so.
Stir in the tomato paste, garlic powder, Dijon and Worcestershire, and cook for about a minute before adding the port and using a spoon or spatula to scrape up all the luscious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the potatoes and broth, then add the cubes of beef (and any accumulated juices) back into the pan, stirring to combine. Stir in the thyme leaves and reduce the heat to medium-low. Bring the stew to a simmer and then cook, with the lid partially on, until the potatoes are very tender, about an hour or so. (You can also make sure the lid is tightly on and gently simmer the stew for a few hours, if you like.)
Serve hot, with some crusty bread for sopping up the rich broth. Stew will keep, well-wrapped for about a week in the fridge, and also freezes beautifully.
Makes about 10 cups stew.
Bruce Rits Gilbert
It’s time for some Rich Beef Stew. STAT! Thank you, Molly.