|Mrs Patty's Stew|
There is nothing that says Fall quite like stew made with fresh tomatoes and a host of other veggies. My mom used to make stew often. It was one of our favorite meals and still is today. Stew is one of those beautiful meals where exact measurements of the vegetables isn't really necessary. I find I put in more or less of some things as I have them available and often don't add in tomatoes at all which gives the stew a completely different character, less acidic but still just as hardy. I make stew a lot but am notorious for never measuring but doing things by taste and it always seems to work out. It was fabulous last night and even better this evening. Here's what I did....
Beef Stew ala Mrs. Patty
1 pound sirloin steak trimmed and cut into cubes (about 3/4" square works good)
2 tbsp grape seed oil
*fresh ground pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp dry thyme
3 tbsp dried parsley
1 generous tbsp fresh garlic chopped fine and smashed a bit
1 large onion diced rough (large pieces)
2 medium carrots peeled and cut into squarish chunks about the same size as the beef
2 stalks celery diced
8 cups potatoes scrubbed and unpeeled cut to 1" pieces (approx)
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
5 to 6 cups peeled tomatoes chopped (garden fresh if you have them)
1/2 medium size head cabbage rough chopped (I used red cabbage but green will do fine too)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Better than Bullion organic Beef stock concentrate
Water to fill
Sprinkle meat with a bit of *salt (about 1/2 teaspoon or less) and give it a good sprinkle of *fresh ground pepper (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) and stir meat to coat evenly. With the burner on high, heat up oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven. When the hot begins to show ripples add the meat spreading it out in the pan as best you can. Check in a couple minutes to see if the meat is releasing from the pan bottom and stir well when it does.
Continue browning the meat, stirring every minute or so and when the beef is nearly done browning toss in the chopped onion and continue cooking stirring often until the onion is about half done and has started caramelizing a little bit.
Next add the carrots, garlic and celery and continue cooking, stirring often to avoid burning and cook until they begin to release the caramilization on the bottom of the pan. (It won't release completely so don't worry if some sticks)
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and fill up the pot with water, heat to a boil and reduce heat to simmer partially covered. Be sure to check the pot once in a while and taste the broth.
*I add salt to taste adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon at a time until its close and then in pinches until I like it. I have found if I cook it with less salt the flavors of the vegetables are more pronounced and sweet. This also keeps me from over salting the pot (which I've done before). You can always add salt later but cannot take it out if you put in too much.
*Use 2 cups of Russet potatoes which fall apart more in cooking and help add substance to the broth
*I ground the pepper over top so it was not measured but was about 1/4 tsp with more ground on top of each bowl full at serving. If you use standard pepper use 1/4 tsp and then add to suit your taste.
*For a richer broth you could use drippings from roast beef or add a couple tablespoons of butter.(Everything is better with butter.)
*I added a dollop of sour cream to each bowl at serving which added a really nice counter flavor to the vegetable broth flavor. It reminded me a lot of the flavor of the borscht our Russian neighbor makes.
Stew...its beautiful food.