Friday, November 13, 2015

Little Red Hen's Beefy Tomato Stew

Little Red Hen's Beefy Tomato Stew

Sometimes you just need a stew. You've done the broccoli cheese. You've sipped your chicken noodle. You've sopped your tomato basil. You're chilied out. Your mortal frame grows week. You, like Thor, need sustenance, as in real protein, as in red meat. But you want to eat it out of a bowl because it is cold outside. See. You just need a good, beefy, hearty stew.

Stew is better with lots of meat. Growing up, my brothers, sister, and I would try to carefully ladle stew into our own bowls so that we could each sneak ourselves the most beefy bites. When dinner was over, we would pick meat right out of the pot as we cleared the table. It was a habit that led to vegetarian stew left-overs, but they were still tasty. Cort's Little Red Hen Beefy Tomato Stew has a lot of meat so that even the most carnivorous of tasters won't be able to pick out all the meat on the first go-around.

Stew also needs lots spoon-sized portions of potato, carrots, celery, and onion. Sure, I'll throw in a green bell pepper now and then because that's how my mom made it, but potato, carrot, celery, and onion are essential. My mom also always made her stew with tomato sauce. I know you can  make a hearty beef stew without tomato, but it doesn't taste quite right to me. I love the consistency the tomato brings, I love the color, I love how it adopts a totally beefy aura. It tastes like home that way. Throw in a couple of bay leaves and I feel like I'm 9 again.
sLittle Red Hen's Beefy Tomato Stew

When I was 9 my family moved from Texas to Utah for a couple years, which was quite the thing because we moved right before Thanksgiving and arrived just in time for my birthday in December. We'd never been to Utah. We didn't really know anyone there. It was cold and white, something I'd never experienced before since I'd been raised in the humid heat! (That year turned out out to be a record breaking snow year- as in our neighbor literally plowed our street with a backhoe and the snow pile was so high it was nearly level with the roof. We had that pile of snow until about June.) It was the best to come inside after playing outside in the snow, to a kitchen wafting with the aroma of beefy, tomatoey, deliciously warming stew. Add to that a thick slice of homemade bread, and I can't think of many better ways to feel taken care of.

Little Red Hen's Beefy Tomato Stew is hearty and easy to pull together, with a nice long simmering time. If you are looking for a slow cooker stew, try throwing all the ingredients into the crockpot after browning the beef and lightly sauteing the vegetables. Serve it in a large, cozy bowls, or bread bowls. Either way, this is a recipe sure to please! Plus, it's big enough for dinner and lunches throughout chilly fall and winter weeks. (Feel free to cut the recipe in half or freeze extras, too!)

Little Red Hen's Beefy Tomato Stew

Little Red Hen's Beefy Tomato Stew
  • 2 lbs beef stew meat, or an inexpensive roast, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 4 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped (or more if you like)
  • 4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 32 oz tomato sauce
  • 12 oz water
  • 2- 14 oz cans beef broth
  • Beef bouillion cube, optional
  1. In a large frying pan heat 3 tbs oil on medium heat. In a large bowl or ziplock bag, toss beef with flour, salt, and pepper until pieces are well coated.
  2. Brown beef with flour and garlic in heated frying pan until outsides begin to look slightly browned and crispy. Transfer meat to a large stockpot, being sure to scrape any beef or flour residue from the frying pan into the pot. (That is flavor, friends!) If using a crockpot, transfer meat to crockpot.
  3. In the same frying pan heat 1 tbs oil. Sautee onion, celery, and carrot until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer vegetables into stockpot with meat. If using a crockpot, transfer vegetables to crockpot.
  4. Add potatoes, beef broth, bay leaves, and bouillion cube if desired. Pour in tomato sauce and water. (Tip: I fill up one empty tomato sauce can with water and then pour that water into all the empty sauce cans before pouring it into the stew. That way I get all the tomato out of the cans. Another hint learned from watching my mom in the kitchen.)
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until vegetables are tender. (Simmering longer over a low heat works equally well.)
Bake the bread. Share the slices.

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