Thursday, December 23, 2010

Slow and Low

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The inspiration for this recipe came from my mom. We rarely had beef when I was a kid, so it was pretty memorable when Mom served it up. One of the recipes I remember from my childhood is her "4 Hour Beef Stew", which was an oven-roasted hearty stew with veggies, beef and a savory broth.

I found the recipe (I had pilfered from one of her cookbooks many years ago) the other day while digging through old recipes and decided to give it a whirl...but with a new twist of spices. But honestly, I hardly ever cook beef outside of burgers or meatballs, so I turned to my older sister Kate ( who cooks beef constantly for some ideas for spices...the combination of Mom's old recipe, Kate's new spice suggestions and a few additions of my own made a deliciously cozy meal.

The McAllister Women's 4 Hour Stew

- 1 1/2 lbs. stew beef (in bite-sized pieces)
- 4 large russet potatoes cut into rough chunks
- 1 small bag of baby carrots
- 1 cup sliced celery (about 1/4 inch thick)
- 2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 cup water
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp. celery seed
- 2 tbsp. tarragon
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper


Preheat the oven t0 275 degrees. Coat beef well with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. celery seed before tossing with vegetables in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle the rest of the celery seed, all of the tarragon and another few pinches of salt and pepper over the dish, stirring to coat the veggies with the seasonings.

2. In a separate bowl combine the tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, water and beef stock. I also added a pinch of celery seed and tarragon to the sauce. Once combined, pour slowly over the meat/veggie mixture until it is well distributed and place the bay leaves on top.

3. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 4 hours...your house will smell so good! I cooked this meal last night at the same time I was slow-cooking apple cider in the crockpot and our house still smells incredible!

The stew tasted so good - the veggies and meat were seasoned perfectly (thanks Kate!) and were so tender. We have tons of leftovers and enjoyed them for lunch today - the flavors were even better the following day! If you're looking for a hearty, cozy winter meal, this hits that note perfectly.

I realize I mentioned apple cider cooking in the crockpot and figure its pretty mean to reference something so delicious and then not tell you how I made it. It is the easiest thing ever, just combine 12 cups of apple cider, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. ginger and 1/3 cup brown sugar in a slow-cooker and heat on low for about 2 hours.

If you want to add a special kick to the cider (which Aaron and I absolutely do!), add about a cup of caramel syrup to the cider about an hour into the cooking and top with whipped cream. We completely hijacked this idea from a barista at one of our favorite local coffee houses ( and can now make it at home. We promise to still visit and get our regular coffees!

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