If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know that I am not the most domestic of creatures. I’m a poor housekeeper (put a pack-rat into a 1930’s cottage with no closets and you have disaster), but I am a good cook. At least, I like the things I make and I’ve had several people tell me that they like my food too.
I have a few recipe sites I’ve signed up for over the years, and some of them have stayed with me. Today’s recipe from one site was for traditional Beef Stew. Oddly enough, I had just made beef stew yesterday. Their version? Boring. Mine? Tasty and a little non-traditional.
Theirs called for some steps I use. Sauté some onions, celery, and garlic in some olive oil (most folks add carrots, but they are a bit sweet for me), I also added some mushrooms, then add some cubed stew beef and let it brown a bit, and then sprinkle some flour over the lot so when you add some stock and other ingredients, it will thicken a bit. Yes, I do all of that, although I don’t add much flour at all. I have a terrible time with the carbs, but I will go for a bit of thickening, figuring that the protein in the beef will help to combat those carbohydrates. Once we get this far, we can transfer this whole mess into a crockpot or slow cooker, so the beef won’t be chewy and tough. I generally add a bay leaf, some Better Than Bouillon (come on – it is really better than bouillon), and a good deal of freshly crushed black pepper. I also use chopped tomatoes. I know, sounds a bit weird, but trust me, it’s good, especially if you canned the tomatoes yourself. Let that all simmer for a few hours until the beef is very tender.
Now we come to the part where we’re going to add vegetables. Potatoes and carrots, right? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to have? Well, you’d think. But, both of those will end up making me ill because they have too high of a glycemic load. So, what can I put in that stew? This time I used 1) green beans, 2) brussels sprouts, 4) butternut squash, 5) parsnips, and 6) kale. You’re probably thinking this sounds just awful. Well, to me, these are great vegetables. But, if you want to make them wonderful vegetables, there’s something you need to do to them before you add them to the stew. Roast ’em. Take out a fairly shallow roasting or baking dish, line it with heavy duty foil. Spray or brush it with a bit of oil (I use EVOO – extra virgin olive oil), dice and chop your veggies up into stew-sized chunks. Put them into the pan (I didn’t roast the kale) and then drizzle a little more oil over the top. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt. Put the pan of vegetables into a pre-heated oven, about 450° and roast them for about 10 minutes. Take the pan out, stir the vegetables a bit, and put the pan back in for another 15-20 minutes. They should be just browning on the top when you take them out. Add them to your stew. These vegetables, even though they already have a natural sweetness before roasting, will be delicious. And, because they have more fiber-y goodness than the carrots and potatoes (even though they do have some), they don’t affect my blood sugar as much. I usually add some kale a few minutes before serving, just to let it wilt. The flavor is acceptable and it has awesome nutrition, so it goes in.
The best part though? When you’re cleaning up, and you take that foil out of the pan to rinse and recycle it (yes, I live in Oregon, remember?), you might find a few pieces of fairly crispy vegetable residue on that foil. Peel it off and eat it. It is sheer heaven.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a photo of beef stew with no potatoes or carrots in it? ;D Anyway, just get creative with your food. Try adding something new.