Here's how to make a healthier version of a delicious like-mom-made standby. Use a small amount of high quality beef, add lots of flavorful veggies in addition to the standard carrots and taters, season creatively, throw in a bit of hearty red wine with the beef stock/broth and voila! Comfort food without the guilt.
The veggies that make the difference are leeks and dried porcini mushrooms (with their soaking liquid). Buy grass fed or Angus stew beef if you can get it. Wine that works includes zinfandel, carbernet sauvignon or (what I had on hand) shiraz/syrah. Serve the same wine at table along with a green salad and some crusty (preferably whole grain) bread.
Recipe: Healthier Beef Stew
- 8 ounces stew beef in bite-size chunks
- 3 T canola oil
- 2 leeks, rinsed well, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 lb new potatoes (red or white), cut into bite-size chunks
- 3 large carrots, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks (optional)
- 12 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 15 minutes, drained and chopped
- 2 T flour
- Mushroom soaking liquid, strained to remove sand from mushrooms, about 1 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 3 cups beef stock or beef broth
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 T dried thyme
- 2 large bay leaves
- Heat oil in your largest saucepan or a Dutch oven over medium high heat. When oil begins to sizzle, add beef and cook, stirring, until beef begins to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate or bowl and keep nearby.
- Add leeks and garlic to pot, stirring for 1-2 minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in remaining vegetables (potatoes through porcini mushrooms) and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables begin to heat up and start to cook, about 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle flour over the veggies, stir well, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Return beef to the pot.
- Add liquids (mushroom soaking liquid, wine and stock/broth), stirring well.
- Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a low boil.
- Remove cover, reduce heat to medium and add thyme, salt, pepper and the bay leaves.
- Cook for another 30 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are your desired level of tenderness by testing with the point of a knife.
- Discard the bay leaves before serving.