Oven-Baked Beef Stew

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My first post in two months…and it has meat!!!  I know, I’m breaking my cooking with veggies motto, but I swear there are tasty vegetables in this stew.  In central California, we’ve been having a string of hot weather (not surprised, are you?), and yesterday the temperatures finally dipped.  I was craving something warm and with gravy.  Growing up, stew and pot roast were some of my favorite dishes, so using what I remember of those recipes, I created this dutch oven baked stew.  The results were delicious!

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As with all recipes, I’m convinced that quality majorly matters.  Because I rarely cook with meat, I sprang for the good stuff.  I now remember that I do not cook with meat for two main reasons: the quality meat that I am willing to purchase is very expensive (I could get the same weight of lentils for $1.50) and meat takes a long time to do right!  However, at my local co-op, I found grass fed local beef.  When I first opened the package, I was afraid that it would be a little tough in the final product, because I didn’t see much marbling or fat.  But let me assure you, the meat was tender, flavorful, and melt in your mouth.

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The rest of my ingredients were top notch as well.  I mean, Guinness draft is always amazing.  The jar of tomatoes was canned from my summer garden harvest, and they were delicious.  My produce (except for mushrooms) came from my produce delivery.  I used purple potatoes, which were bright and vibrant in the beginning, but turned pale after almost two hours of baking.

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Pre-oven baking

Lastly, I originally added all of the veggies at once before sticking the dutch oven in to bake.  As the carrots and potatoes turned out a little too mushy for my texture palate, follow the directions as listed.  I’m sure that your veggies will be in much better shape than mine were.

Post oven baking

Post-oven baking

Oven-Baked Beef Stew – makes 4 hearty servings; 2 hours cook time

1/4 c. flour

1.25 – 1.5 lbs. stew meat

2 tbsp. olive oil

small onion, sliced or diced (depending on your texture preference)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bottle Guinness (or similar beer)

14 oz. can stewed tomatoes

2 c. beef or vegetable broth

1 tsp. thyme

8 oz. button mushroom, quartered

3-4 large carrots, sliced into 1″ pieces

1 lb. new potatoes, quartered

1 c. frozen peas

salt and pepper to taste

Put the flour in a zip-lock bag, adding a bit of salt and pepper to your liking.  In two batches, toss the pieces of stew meat, coating them completely.  Heat your dutch oven, or oven-safe pot with lid, over medium heat on the stove.  Add the olive oil.  In two batches, brown the stew meat, setting the browned meat to the side on a plate.

If needed, add a touch more oil to your dutch oven.  Again, over medium heat, add the onions.  Saute until starting to turn translucent.  Add the minced garlic, cooking for one more minute.  Bring the meat back in to the mix, stirring to combine with the onions and garlic.

Pour in the beer and stir to deglaze the bottom of the dutch oven.  Once deglazed, add the tomatoes, broth, mushrooms and thyme, bringing the mixture to a boil.  Cover with an oven-safe lid and put into your oven, which should be preheated to 350 degrees.  Let bake for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, take the dutch oven out, adding the carrots and potatoes.  Return to the oven to bake for about 45 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender to your liking.  Finally, remove from oven and stir in the frozen peas.  Taste your gravy (which should be thick by now) and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Parsley makes a really nice and fresh garnish for such a dish, but the peas provide a nice burst of color, so I didn’t worry about it.  Enjoy 🙂

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