Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Winter spice beef and beet stew: a recipe for November's snow

We received a rare treat this year: a gloom on Halloween straight out of the movies with temperatures well above freezing. The wind that ripped the last of the leaves off the trees and stirred the clouds into ominous formations was even courteous enough to quiet down in time for trick-or-treaters, who ventured out with sweaters under their apparel instead of snowsuits. I was sorry to have to stay home, but a woefully sore foot meant I was better suited to handing out treats than escorting costumed youngsters, much to my husband's chagrin. He'd never been a fan of the copious people contact and awkward costume questions that comes with door-to-door candy collection. He had volunteered to keep the home jack-o-lanterns burning for much of his youth and has continued in that role throughout our marriage. I, on the other hand, was volunteering to take my youngest brother out on Halloween nights in order to extend the fun of costumes and candy well into high school. Babysitting was a mature enough veneer to justify dressing up and collecting sugar. My Mommy costumes have been much more minimalist (butterfly wings, six years and counting), but I've enjoyed dressing up my littles and taking them 'round to meet the neighbours on All Hallows' Eve, and, naturally, sampling from their sugary bounty. Nevertheless, the kids had a marvellous time out with Daddy, and I suspect my husband may have lost a bit of his distaste for the tradition. After all, standing back and basking in your children's cuteness is rather different than enduring such attention yourself. 

With such an unseasonable treat behind us, I had no qualms about this year's early November snow. Its brightness took the edge off the yearly lurch out of daylight savings, and, this year, the return of winter brings me ever closer to baby - close enough to motivate me into completing the rest of those pesky prenatal preparations. It feels good to check them off. And, after a warm and glorious autumn, I'm ready to hunker down, light my candles, and simmer something warmly spiced for supper. So inspired by the nascent season, and with copious amounts of cow still crowding up the freezer, I found a way to incorporate those mulling spices I so wanted to be smelling with some of the last of farmer's market bounty cluttering my fridge: namely, golden beets, a buttery turnip-like cousin of the deep purple beets that I so enjoy but have so little success in pairing with anything (beyond borscht, that is). It turned out so well that I'm sharing it here, for there's many a chilly winter night to come. 

The veggie mix is limited and reflected the lack of variety in my crisper drawer that week; next time I make this stew, it will hopefully have carrots, red cabbage, and some sort of green to go along with the beets and tomatoes. The seasoning measurements are approximate (obviously); please feel free to season to taste. The Tuscan Seasoning I got at Costco and, for those who'd rather approximate from their own kitchen, is described as "a blend of warm Mediterranean flavors with roasted garlic, bell peppers, aromatic rosemary, basil, oregano and lemon." We received ours as a gift and have found it a wonderfully versatile addition to our spice cabinet. I highly recommend it. If anyone from Kirkland/Costco is reading this, I'm happy to be payed for saying so. Baby needs shoes. And by shoes, I mean a college fund (Costco pays well, right?).

Winter spice beef & beet stew


-1 & 1/2 lb stew beef
- 2 Tbsp flour
- generous sprinkle of sea salt, cinnamon & allspice
- a pinch each of nutmeg & clove
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
- a large shake of Kirkland Rustic Tuscan Seasoning
- 2-3 bay leaves
- bacon fat (or butter or olive oil)
- 2 medium red onions, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 3-4 small to medium golden beets, peeled & cut into 1 inch cube
- 1 small red beet, peeled & finely diced
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cup veggie stock
- 14 oz water (to clean out the tomato can)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed & picked over

Toss beef in flour & seasonings. Brown in bacon fat over medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Remove from pot & reserve. Deglaze pot with a splash of stock and sauté onions, garlic, & celery with another shake of Tuscan seasoning until onion is translucent. Add rest of stock, tomatoes, water, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, reserved beef & beets. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered for ~30min.

Stir in lentils & add another shake of cinnamon along with a pinch each of allspice & clove. Bring back to a simmer, lower heat & cook, covered, for another hour or so until beef is cooked through and beets & lentils are tender. Adjust seasonings, remove bay leaves, & serve with bread or biscuits. Serves eight (or, in our case, serves four twice). 

Happy simmering.

1 comment:

  1. This stew sounds absolutely amazing!! I haven't had a good stew in months and now I'm craving one. Especially after the cold, wild weather we've had. :-)

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