Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rustic Beef Stew with Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes and Cabbage

This has been the most beautiful Autumn here in Ohio.  It is the middle of November and I am sitting outside watching the boys play as I type, no jackets needed. I am sure it won't  be lasting but I am enjoying every second of it while I can!  I know I have been a stranger around here for some time, but life has FINALLY begun to settle down.  Between my broken leg, pregnancy, a new baby and moving into a new home I have felt like I could hardly catch my breath. It was a whirlwind for sure! Well this year both Jackson and Owen are in school full time leaving me with just one little guy running around.  I forgot how easy having one child was- or actually it was probably never easy when I only had one. But now in comparison to three, one is a piece of cake... at least most of the time. Haha! We have settled into a routine of storybooks, daily hikes in our woods, and lots of make believe.  I have been enjoying my days with Aaron so much. It has been wonderful having this one on one time together, just me and him.  He is such a joy!  But now it is also time for me to get back into doing those things I enjoyed in my spare time way back when I actually HAD free time. And that includes blogging again!  I have missed it so much and am beyond excited about reviving My Retro Kitchen!

This recipe came about on accident (but isn't that how some of the best recipes are created?!) I started out prepping the makings of my favorite stew, browning meat, chopping veggies, when I realized the bag of potatoes I thought I had in the pantry were actually used a few nights before.  Aaron was napping so there was no running out to the store, I needed to make due with what I did have on hand- a couple of sweet potatoes and a butternut squash. And as a matter of fact, they sounded delicious!

This recipe not only turned out fantastic but I knew it would be the perfect recipe to bring My Retro Kitchen back to life again.  I was dying to share it with all of you! It is hearty, satisfying and a perfect meal on these crisp fall evenings.  Be sure to serve it with some warm, crusty bread and lots of butter. You're going to want it to sop up the delicious broth. Enjoy!

Rustic Beef Stew with Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes and Cabbage

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 large carrots, 2 diced and 2 cut into 3/4-inch
4 celery stalks, 2 diced and 2 cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices
2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 head of cabbage (about 6 cups), halved and then sliced into strips
2 lbs beef, cut into 2-inch chunks (chuck steak or bottom round works well)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 fresh sprigs of thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
8 cups beef or chicken stock

Sprinkle the meat with a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Place the meat into a gallon-sized plastic bag with the flour and seal shut.  Shake well to coat all the meat in the flour.  Heat a large dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom of the pot with the olive oil and heat. Working in batches, add the beef to the pot, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. You want to brown the meat, not steam it!  Brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes, then transfer to a plate.  Repeat until all the meat has been browned.

Add the butter to the pan and melt. Add the onions, garlic, diced carrots, and diced celery.  Cook on medium-low heat until just beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and the thyme sprigs and cook for 2 more minutes.

Turn the heat up to high and slowly pour in the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden or silicone spoon picking up all the wonderful browned bits stuck to the bottom. This will give your stew a nice, rich flavor.  Return the meat to the pan and add the broth to just cover the beef. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for two hours.

Add the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrot and celery chunks to the pot with the meat and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.  Remove the bayleaf and the stems of the thyme (or do as my mom would do while I was growing up.... keep them in and whoever got the bayleaf was the lucky one to do the dishes! Ha!) Taste the broth and add more salt if needed.

Serve with lots of crusty bread and butter to sop up all the delicious broth.

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