September 19, 2011

Beef and wild mushroom stew

Autumn is in the air and I love it! As soon as the temperature begins to drop down, I'm ready for stews, soups, and all other comfort foods. I'm already grabbing up butternut squash, beets, cabbage, and more. I was in the mood to kick-off my cool weather cooking with a hearty and earthy stew. Full of beef and mushrooms on top of some creamy mashed potatoes - it was a perfect way to begin the season! These little baby carrots are not something I would normally use, but I got the for free and figured this would be a good way to use them up. Any carrots would work well for this (I just bought some orange, purple, and white ones at the farmer's market that I'm looking forward to eating). The mushrooms were from the farmer's market - a jar of dried wild chanterelles supplemented by some my husband had foraged.

This stew is something that you make on the weekend so you can let it slow cook for a few hours until the beef almost melts in your mouth. This recipe will serve about four people. 

Beef and wild mushroom stew
about 1-1/2 cups dried wild mushroom of your choice (I used chanterelles) 
olive oil for cooking
about 1-1.5 lbs. trimmed and cubed stew beef
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
about 1-1/2 cups baby carrots (or about 1 cup diced carrots)
6-7 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 cup frozen pearl onions
4 large white potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
about 1/4 - 1/3 cup milk

Put the mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water (until just covered). Set aside. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a dutch oven, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until all sides are browned. Remove the beef from the dutch oven and place on a plate. Set aside.

Add the celery to the dutch oven. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, carrots, thyme, bay, and some salt and pepper. Stir and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the wine to the dutch oven and stir well to de-glaze the bottom. Let the wine come to a boil and reduce slightly. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock and stir well. Add the mushrooms along with about 1-1/2 cups of their soaking liquid. Add the onions and return the beef to the pot. Let the stew come up to a gentle boil, then cover and place in the preheated oven.

Check it at about two hours and add more beef stock or mushroom soaking liquid if the liquid is getting too low. Cook until the beef is extremely tender all all the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced to make a nice, thickened broth, about 3 to 3.5 hours.

When you are about ready to eat, make your mashed potatoes. I like to leave the skin on my potatoes. Slice the potatoes thinly and place in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Cover with cold water, put the lid on the pot, and boil until fork-tender. Drain and add butter and milk to the potatoes along with a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Mash using a hand masher until your desired texture.

Place a layer of mashed potatoes in a bowl or on a plate and top with the stew. Sprinkle a few extra thyme leaves on top, if desired.

What was I cooking one year ago?: celery root and apple puree and sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon butter

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