Monday, March 3, 2014

Stew with Extra Veggies by Tom

Tom's "Overly Populated" Vegetable Beef Stew

I decided I would make a beef stew overflowing with vegetables.  My estimation is that it would make for a heartier and healthier stew.  Whether it did or not is debatable, but it certainly was chock full of vegetables.

I basically combed the Wegman's vegetable aisles, and purchased bags of pre-packaged "stewable" vegetables.  The only fresh vegetable, per se, was an onion!  Everything else was packaged.  Believe it or not, it was a very tasty stew.  We ate it for a few days, as you might imagine given the quantities involved.  But it was fun to make, and that's that.


Tom's "Overly Populated" Vegetable Beef Stew
(Source material - my highly imaginative mind)

Serves a bunch of people

2# beef stew meat, trimmed of excess fat
1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 "bag" of small red bell peppers, chopped coarsely
1 "bag" of pettipan squashes
1 "bag" of peas
1 8 oz package of baby portabella mushrooms
1 "bag" of stew vegetables (carrots, potatoes, celery, pearl onions)
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 14 oz can of beef broth
2 cups of good red wine
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt, to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
flour to dredge the meat chunks

In a large Dutch oven pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.

Add the flour to a large plastic or paper bag.  Toss in the stew meat and shake it up really well.  Make sure that the stew meat gets fairly well coated with the flour.  If necessary, add a bit more flour.  The flour will ultimately help thicken the stew.
Brown the meat in the heated pan.  You may need to do this in a couple of batches.  This will take about 5-7 minutes per batch.

Add the coarsely chopped onions to the browned meat.  Sauté this for another 5 minutes or so.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan for the browned bits.

Turn down the heat to medium and now throw in the bag of stew vegetables.

Next add the bag of pettipan squash.

Now the bag of peas.
Next the portabella mushrooms.

And finally the can of diced tomatoes.  All of the vegetables are now in the pot.  As you can see, the pot is pretty full!  Only room for the liquid ingredients and the herbs for flavor.
Measure out 2 cups of a good red wine.  Add this and the can of beef broth to the pot.  At this point in the process, it is very acceptable to have several sips of the wine.  After all you are making sure it is a good red wine.
Now add the three bay leaves to the mélange.
Now the Worcestershire sauce.

Next add the uncooked chopped garlic.

Finally the rosemary, red pepper flakes, black pepper and the oregano.

Stir the whole mixture up, carefully, to get the vegetables and meat covered in the liquid. Bring the mixture to a simmer.  If necessary, add a little more wine to makes sure everything is covered.  Or drink a little more wine, which will convince you that there is enough in this pot.  Taste the stew for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Having preheated your oven to 350 degrees, which I forgot to tell you to do earlier because I was making sure the wine was good, cover the pot, place it on a baking sheet in case of overflow spillage, and bake for another 1 1/2 hours.
After an hour and a half, or even longer if you would like to insure the meat is tender and the vegetables are soft, remove from the oven.  When you take the lid off, you will be greeted by a wonderful aroma of flavors.
Dish it up and serve with a nice crusty bread.  This is a really good one-dish meal.  The leftovers will keep nicely in the refrigerator or freezer for a few days.  I guarantee you will not find a stew with more vegetables than this!  So it must be good for you and it does taste good too.


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