Despite devoting the lion’s share of my time to cooking, even I sometimes just have to throw something in the slow cooker, pray for success, and run. A couple of fairly recent keepers in that category are:
If you haven’t made a restaurant reservation yet for Valentine’s Day, you’re probably too late except for the 3:30 or 10:30 pm slots.
What you’re definitely in time for is a trip to the grocery store, a little cooking action, an attractively-set table, and a relaxed dinner with no one asking
|Made in a deep, heavy 8 quart cast iron pot with a lid (Dutch oven)|
Last year around this time, I made a pot roast with big pieces of butternut squash and halved onions in the oven. A day later I took the leftovers, including the gravy, and made stew. Stew from leftovers is definitely an improvement over freshly made stew. There’s a deeper, fuller, and more flavorful rich quality–without question. It’s just that there’s usually less than when you make a fresh pot. That stew made very quickly with the addition of more onions, celery, and Guinness stout, etc., was divine. I mean it, it was an incredible stew.
No who knows totally why one time things are so scrumptious you want more and more — and another time (same ingredients and method apparently) it’s like, “This is ok. Yeah, we can eat dinner here.” Perhaps it’s the quality of the meat (in the case of stew) or maybe it’s a little pixie dust. Your taste buds might be on their “A” game so that you are able to season the pot in an extraordinary way. Truly, I just don’t know. I know when I’m tired — really exhausted– the meal prepared under those circumstances is plebian. I just did that recently, so I know. I know when I don’t give something my undivided attention that it’s bound to be less interesting. (As in the kids are hungry-throw a bunch of cut-up chicken in the oven and make some rice for God’s sake.)
Despite the fact that I make several pots of stew over the winter each year, I remembered that one. I also remembered I was determined to recreate it from scratch if possible. Hence this pot of stew that, by the end of the cooking, morphed into one big pot pie.
If you’d like stew only, add a cup or two more liquid, and skip the biscuits. I did not try it, but I’d guess it’s possible to make the stew all day in the crock-pot–cutting down the amount of herbs–, pour it into an oven-safe pot and bake with the biscuits right at dinner time. Another option might be (again, I didn’t try this) to cool the stew and top it with puff pastry. (If you put the puff pastry on hot stew, it’ll be melting.) That might appeal to some cooks more than making biscuit dough. Like Bisquick biscuits? Go on; I won’t know, though I encourage you to learn to make biscuits. I once knew a woman whose husband insisted he married her because she could make beaten biscuits in her sleep.
Come cold, there’s little more satisfying than a pot of stew in the oven. (Play cards. Listen to music. Watch “Michael.”) One of the interesting things about this stew is it’s made without potatoes though you could add some if you’d like. I prefer root vegetables and stick with carrots, turnips, parsnips, as well as celery, onions, garlic, and butternut squash. Serve this with another couple of cold Guinness stouts or a glass of your favorite Syrah or Côtes du Rhône if you’re not a dark beer person. (You’ll still love the stew; I promise.)
Here’s how in a picture recipe (scroll down for separate ingredients list and biscuit recipe):
|To the second batch of browning beef, add 2 large chopped onions. When beef is nearly brown, add four cloves chopped garlic. Cook a minute, return first batch of beef to the pot, and stir in 3 tablespoons flour. Cook 2 minutes, stirring.|
|Add 4 ounces quartered button mushrooms along with one each turnip and parsnip , 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, and 1 cup of butternut squash, all cut into around 1/2 inch pieces.|
|Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and bake in the oven 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened.|
|Remove from oven and take out the fresh herb sprigs.^ If stew is very, very thick, add a little water or broth. Biscuits will soak up a lot of the liquid.|
|Meanwhile, make cheddar-dill biscuit dough. It’s a very wet dough. (See below for recipe.)|
|Spoon biscuit dough (I used a wooden spoon) onto the top of the cooked stew. Brush biscuits with a tablespoon of melted butter. Biscuits will rise and expand to nearly cover top of pie.|
|Return to oven and bake uncovered another 20-30 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.|
|Serve hot with a crisp green salad. Store leftovers well covered in frig 2-3 days. Rewarm in another casserole in oven.
Ingredients List: 2-3 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces; salt and pepper; 2 large onions; 4 cloves garlic; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 2 cups each beef broth and Guinness stout**; 4 ounces button mushrooms; one each turnip and parsnip; 2 carrots; 1 cup cut butternut squash; 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 1 sprig each rosemary, thyme, and sage*; 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish or Tabasco.
*You may substitute two teaspoons each dried rosemary (crumbled) and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon ground sage.
**If you don’t want to use beer, use all beef broth.
^ Leave in bay leaf. Whoever gets it has good luck!
Cheddar Dill Biscuits for Pot Pie:
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1/2 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter, diced–plus 1 more tablespoon, melted for tops of biscuits
- 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup milk
Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add cold butter and using a pastry blender or two knives (you can use just your fingers or even do the whole thing in a food processor), cut in the butter until the butter is mostly blended and the mixture appears sandy. Stir in cheese. Pour in milk and mix well without over-mixing. (Using a large spoon, divide dough fairly evenly around the top of the pot pie and brush with the tablespoon of melted butter before baking.)
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood
It’s my Mom’s birthday today…Lovely to remember her on her special day. She crossed the river in ’85. One of my mom’s many good lines was, “I’m so full I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight.”
I often think of her in view the Hopi poem I heard again yesterday at the funeral of a fine, fine man…
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet white doves in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
In the house and yard this week…..
|I’ve re-worked and re-photographed one of the favorite recipes on both blogs–Cherry Tomato Chicken Pasta with Basil. Updated version coming soon to a blog near you.|
|The 30 Second and No Pan to Wash Egg on Dinner Place (Cooking for One)–my other blog.|
|Miss Gab loves to stay under the piano–whether I’m working there or not.|
|Tuck ready for HIS close-up|
|The last roses of summer from my huge, old fashioned bush. I brought them in as buds over a week ago!|
|Saturday, I baked oatmeal chocolate chips for the authors in town for Opus and Olives, one of the premiere literary events in the Twin Cities held each fall at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul. (Mark Shriver said he’d eaten his six all in a row; he’d had no food in hours while traveling!) Dave and I also went the banquet and enjoyed a fine meal with great folks while we listened to the each author speak. (My favorite was Cheryl Strayed, but then again, I adored her book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.)|
|Meantime, we have lots of ripe cherry tomatoes from the garden to eat and…|
|more ripening! (It’s October 17…)|
And, because it’s October, I’m listening to the choir’s Christmas cantata (or playing it at the piano) every day. This year, it’s By Heaven’s Light by Allen Pote. For fun, it’s even on youtube, though it’s in six (I think!) different segments.
Sing a new song,