Beef stew is definitely one of the favorites around hear and I never make it the same way twice, it all depends on what's near death in the fridge. I mean what's fresh, seasonal and available. This one was with butternut squash, carrots, celery, a few potatoes and a tomato base. Other times I'll do potatoes and mushroom base. Sneaking in cauliflower and other veggies is always a good move. Even some pureed spinach wouldn't turn this dish into a green nightmare ((wink)). What I love about beef stew is preparing it in the morning and then throwing it in the stove at low heat. By lunch time the whole house smells glorious and the boys are climbing into their highchairs demanding lunch. There is always enough left over for dinner and I keep my creuset warm and serve brown rice with it later. No one ever complains of eating this twice in one day, in fact, I think my husband probably stands in fridge and eats it for breakfast the next day.
I included this photo to show how to easily peel a squash. I don't even want to get into how difficult it used to be for me to peel a squash before I discovered this technique!
knob butter (he he)
1 onion peeled, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 pounds of stewing beef cubed
flour to dust
2 handfuls of baby carrots
2 stalks celery
a butternut squash peeled, deseeded and cubed
1 pound potatoes
1/2 small tin of tomato puree
2 cups beef or veg stock
1/2 bottle red wine (if you have some! if not I just increase the stock by about 3 cups)
Preheat oven to 300. Saute your onion in oil and butter until it is translucent around edges- low heat so you don't burn! Add garlic and saute a couple minutes. Next add your roughly chopped veggies and mix. Lightly dust your beef with flour and salt and add to pot with stock, wine, tomato puree. Bring to a boil and then place lid on top, cook in oven until tender. This usually takes a couple hours. You can test it by taking out a piece of meat and mash with fork, if it falls apart it's ready then you can turn oven down to 225 until your ready to gobble it up. Sooooo good with bread.
some other suggestions are yams (any root veg), Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, mushrooms, zuchinni...
..and, when I use mushrooms I don't use tomato paste.
Jamie Oliver suggests mixing lemon zest, finely chopped garlic, chopped rosemary and sprinkle over stew before eating. umm, never tried this but sounds good! The other suggestion I discovered is that it's not necessary to brown the beef. This cuts the prep time down ALOT.