Friday, November 6, 2009

Beef stew, third generation recipe!

My grandma used to make the most amazing beef stew when we were little.  I know it's corny, but she used to call it "Stew-goo."  So that's how I remember it.

It's a pretty simple recipe, and because it was such a dear part of my childhood, I want to share it with you.

 (Please pardon my messy stove!)
Grandma's Beef Stew
You will need:
1-2 pounds beef stew meat, tenderized or plain (you could also use pork)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes
1 large can of diced, stewed, or crushed tomatoes (your choice)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8" coins
3 ribs celery, sliced into 1/8" coins
1 regular-sized can no-salt-added corn (or use frozen)
Kosher salt
Onion salt or chopped onion
Pasta (pick bite-sized pieces)
Beef or chicken stock or broth

In a large pot, boil about 1" of water.  Pour in the stew meat.  Boil gently for about 10 minutes, or until all of the red is gone.  I know this violates everything you know about tender meat, but trust me - the flavor is worth it, and the pieces of meat are so small that their being tough won't matter that much.

Once the meat looks to be fairly done, add the potatoes and canned tomatoes (do not drain).  Add pasta if desired.  Boil gently until the potatoes are almost fork-tender.  Add broth or stock if there is not enough liquid to cover the potatoes.

Add carrots and celery (and okra and onion or onion salt, if desired).  Simmer about 5 minutes or until the carrots soften just a little bit.  Drain the corn and add to the stew.  Salt with about three pinches of kosher salt.  Cook until everything is heated through (do NOT overcook okra, it will ruin everything!).  Serve with crackers and spicy vinegar.

Spicy Vinegar for Beef Stew
My grandma always used small hot peppers grown in her garden or by her friends, but you can get small super-hot peppers (arbol chilies are what I use) pretty much anywhere.  Look for small, narrow chilies.

Cut the stems and throw out any bad, brown, slimy, or otherwise weird-looking peppers.  Drop into a half-empty bottle of white wine vinegar.  For the first use, you will need to turn the vinegar regularly while you are cooking the stew.  From then on out, just keep in the fridge.  You can even top off the vinegar a time or two without changing out the chilies. 

Pour into your stew to get a little bit of spice and a lot of flavor.  Enjoy! 

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