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Pantry Stew

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Last weekend I woke up and was really craving stew.  I spent the rest of the morning in bed looking at various boeuf bourgignon and coq au vin recipes trying to be all French and fancy.  When I finally got up, I realized that the only real vegetables I had were butternut squash (which is actually a fruit) and onions.  I also realized that on a cold Saturday, the last thing I want to do is leave the house.

What’s the fix for a lazy person on a lazy day?  Making stew from whatever’s on hand.  The best part is getting to freeze some for later.  Oh, and getting lots of compliments from your husband.

Pantry Stew
Original Recipe

I really like hearty stews with lots of ingredients to chew on.  Nothing ruins a stew more than mushy potatoes.  I also cooked the onions separately, then added them back at the end so they still have a bite.  The techniques are a cross between a stew and a braise.  Of course, feel free to substitute with whatever you have in your own pantry!

3 lbs chuck or other beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
3 cups red wine
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 lb butternut squash, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 large potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp beef broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large Dutch oven or oven safe pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat until oil is shimmering.  Pat beef cubes dry using paper towels.  Add 1/3 of the beef cubes to the pan in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.  Brown well on all sides.  Transfer beef to a bowl and brown the rest of the batches, adding olive oil if necessary.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add onions to the pan and cook until tender and light brown, stirring occasionally.  Remove onions to a bowl and set aside.

If the pan became too dry you may have some burned bits on the bottom.  If so, deglaze the pan by adding a little hot water to the pan and returning to the stove, scraping up the bits.  Empty and wipe the pan.  Return pan to stove over medium heat.

If pan is dry, add olive oil.  Add garlic to pan, then bay leaf and rosemary sprigs, stirring for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add browned beef back to the pan and stir, then add wine and broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and move the pan to the oven.

Simmer in oven for 30 minutes.  If stew is boiling, vent lid slightly.  Stir in potatoes and squash and simmer for an additional hour or until vegetables are al dente.  Meanwhile, stir cornstarch and 1 tbsp beef broth together in a small bowl until homogenous.  Stir into stew; add salt and pepper to taste.  Add onions to the top of the stew and leave in oven until potatoes and squash are fork-tender, and broth is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.  Serve over brown rice or egg noodles, with a side salad to get those vegetable servings in.

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