Are you caught in the “Polar Vortex”? Is it rainy and cold, snowy and cold, just plain cold? Then this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Beef Stew is perfect!
I love my beef stew. My father used to make his own version(s) of it while I was growing up, taking everything he could find in the refrigerator and throwing it into a pot with some browned meat, water or broth, ketchup or tomato sauce, whatever he felt like that particular day. It was generally good, certainly edible, but never the same.
And sometimes, it was only edible.
This recipe for Roasted Vegetable Beef Stew came about because I was late making dinner. I had all the ingredients as I was planning on making stew, but time got away from me while running errands and I didn’t have time to slow-cook my stew meat into lovely tenderness in the oven as I generally do. Beef Stew for me is about browning meat with onions and garlic, adding some herbs and spices, red wine, beef broth, then putting it in a 325º oven for at least an hour before adding my vegetables; in batches, to cook to be perfectly tender. Now, I did not have the 2 hours or more needed to make my stew, I had less than 1 hour. So, what to do?
Well, first of all, I turn to my trusty pressure cooker to cook the meat into tenderness. Don’t want to use a pressure cooker? I have some slow cooker ideas for you to use instead, but of course, it won’t take 20 minutes, it will take all day, so you have to plan ahead. But still, the finished stew will be done, with hands-on time about the same. Because you will still cook the meat and vegetables separately and combine them in the end.
Roasting the vegetables makes ALL the difference
When making stew I don’t cook all my ingredients at the same time. The meat needs more time than the veggies, the carrots and parsnips need more time than the potatoes (when cooking in liquids but not when roasting); and heaven forbid you should put your tender green beans in at the start, they will be mush. So trying to figure out the timing of getting the meat tender and getting the vegetables into a pressure cooker in batches presented my first problem. You can’t just take the top off the pressure cooker willy nilly anytime you want, you have to release the pressure each time; then you have to bring it back to pressure before you start timing your cooking. So clearly, vegetables and meat cooking together in the pressure cooker was NOT going to work.
So here is what did work; browning and cooking my meat in the pressure cooker while my vegetables roasted in the oven and then, release pressure, stir in veggies and voila! Roasted Vegetable Beef Stew. I loved loved loved the added flavor the caramelized vegetables added to the dish.
When choosing meat for stew, a cheaper cut is the better choice. The meat is going to be braising it until it’s tender, and you want the fat and connective tissue to keep it moist and flavorful. So chuck steak, bottom round, rump roast, shoulder cuts, all good choices. Or you could get the container of the ubiquitous stew meat. Personally, I don’t buy prepackaged stew meat because I’m not sure what they decided to put into it that day. I always buy a whole piece of meat and cut it myself. It doesn’t take that long.
When browning the meat, make sure you have seasoned it well, and that the oil is hot. Brown in batches, do not crowd the pan. You want all the meat to be well browned. DO NOT flour the meat before browning it or you are just browning the flour, not the meat, then when the flour cooks off into the sauce, what have you really accomplished? We will add flour later to thicken things up.
For this particular stew I chose some pearl onions (mine were thawed frozen – this is only important to when you add them to the roasting pan), carrots, parsnip, small Yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, and the side of sautéed mushrooms (for the hubby because I love him, but not them). All of these were cut into uniform size (I call this bite-sized). The carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and squash went in first; then I par cooked the green beans, about 5 minutes in boiling water so they were crisp-tender and added them the last 10 minutes of baking time along with my previously frozen, now thawed, pearl onions. If your onions were fresh, put them in when you do the carrots and all.
Of course, you can use whatever vegetables you like best, although I would tend to stay away from very strong flavored ones such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and veggies like that. But sweet potatoes? Sure. Turnips? Absolutely. Chucks of onion rather that pearl? You betcha. It’s all good.
While your oven is heating up, I don’t know about yours but somedays mine seems to take forever prep your veggies.
Toss the root vegetables into a bowl with about 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or another oil, and add salt, pepper and a good pinch of herbs de Provence (preferred), Italian Seasonings or even just some dried thyme, basil, oregano and whatever else you like.
Cook the root vegetables in the now hot oven for about 10 minutes, then put your pre-cooked green beans and thawed pearl onions onto the pan (after tossing them in the oil/herbs residue left in the bowl) and cook for about 10 minutes more or until all are tender and browned.
You might ask why I didn’t just roast the green beans from the beginning. I find when you roast green beans until tender, they have a tendency to get fibrous and lose their moisture leaving them less than pleasant in my mouth. Giving them a quick plunge into boiling water, for about 5 – 7 minutes or until they are just tender, rinsing them under cold water, to stop the cooking process, and THEN putting them into the seasoned oil and roasting them gave them the all the roasted flavor but left the integrity of the green bean in tack.
While the oven is heating up and you are prepping your veggies, heat your pressure cooker (or skillet if making this in a slow-cooker) over medium-high heat; season the meat and add some oil to the pot/pan, once hot, brown the meat well on all sides. Once all the been browned, reduce the heat slightly, add the onions and minced garlic to the pot, get them browned NOW this is when we add our flour. Stir the flour into the pot and cook it for about 3 minutes then return the meat, add liquids, close the pot and let it cook; for about 20 minutes once it comes to pressure.* Release the pressure via the “natural” method, which means to simply shut it off until the valve says it’s ok to open; open the cooker, stir in your roasted veggies and VOILA!
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*If making this in your crock pot or slow cooker then once you have browned the meat, added the flour and the broth, put in your cooker and cook, on low, for about 6 hours. You will cook your vegetables the same regardless of your method of cooking the meat.
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