Today we’re home on the Rezich Range and we’re chatting (ok, we’re blogging) about beef stew. Beef Stew, everyone seems to love it including us but it’s generally not something I think of as a Sunday meal. When I think of Sunday meals I think of pot roast and chicken, turkey with stuffing, but never beef stew. I always thought of beef stew, much like I do spaghetti, as a mid-week kind of meal. We can chalk that up to my childhood memories of the great meals my mom created on Sunday’s and believe me, it was never stew or spaghetti those were always weekday meals.
Now that Walt and I have declared our Sunday’s as “Slow Cooker Sunday” (at least during winter) I wanted to switch things up a bit and I thought to myself, “hey why not stew, the settlers and cowboys ate beef stew on Sunday”….in fact almost everything they ate could have been considered a stew or a soup. Besides, beef stew, much like a pot roast meal, consists of veggies and meat slow cooked in a tomato sauce or gravy. Stew has chunks of meat while pot roast is a big piece of meat. It’s a “you say potato..I say potato” kind of thing.
Anyway, after pondering this “stew on Sunday” dilemma for a few days, this is the thought came to me (yep family and friends…hunker down this post is going to be one of my quirky ones). When settlers first came to our country they lived off the land. They spent their days clearing land, planting crops, feeding livestock, drawing water, hunting for food, building homes, creating communities. Food was scarce and generally families were large with a lot of people to feed. Because time and food sources were limited as were cooking utensils, meals were generally cooked in one pot or one skillet over an open flame. Meat, vegetables, roots, plants, water, were all thrown into one big pot and simmered all day while everyone worked to create a new life in the colony. Although many believe that stew is an American dish it really does have roots abroad; stew dishes actually date back to the roman days when stews were made of fish and lamb. If you think about it, stew or a stew like dish probably really originated when man first discovered fire.
Sometimes we read stories or see movies that are roughly based on or around actual history of those days long ago. We might wonder and fantasize about how great part of that life style might have been; the adventures of first settlers who headed out to explore and discover the west or cowboys out on the range, their lives very hard yet simple. We can imagine them setting up camp for the night, cooking stew over an open fire.
Ever notice that cowboys always seemed to have a “Cookie” some jolly old cowboy who did all the cooking, the guy who would throw meat, veggies, maybe plants and roots with a little water into a pot which would cook and simmer over an open flame all day ready to feed the masses when the cowboys came back after a long day out on the range. “Cookie” would ladle out the stew into tin cups or plates and watch as the cowboys would dig in to his tasty creation. Of course there was always coffee brewing too (oh, and whisky) but that’s another blog story. But you kind of get my point stew has been around for a long time, a part of our history many times memorialized in movies and stories, even history.
This week I decided that if the settlers could do it and the cowboys could do it then the Rezich’s could also rustle up a good old fashion stew for Sunday dinner. We did just that this past Sunday for Slow Cooker Sunday. The recipe I have for you today is one of the lost treasure recipes that I found last week while I was flipping through all of my neglected cookbooks. The word EXCELLENT printed in my handwriting next to the title of a recipe forgotten as the internet, name brand on-line recipe sites, Allrecipes and Pinterest pulled me further and further away from my books and the tasty recipes we once made.
This stew, which I found in the Pillsbury “One-Dish Meals Cookbook” on page 247, was as tasty as we remembered and we will definitely make it again. The only thing I will do differently the next time is to add a water/flour roux about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time. Although the stew does thicken upon standing, I like a really thick stew but this time I let Walt talk me out of adding the roux so the stew wasn’t as thick as I would have liked it.
OLD-FASHIONED BEEF STEW
What You’ll Need:
1.5 lbs. Beef stew meat cut into ¾” cubes
4 Medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½” slices
3 Medium red potatoes – unpeeled, cut into ½ inch cubes (I used 5 russet peeled and cut into cubes)
1½ Cups Frozen pearl onions (from a 16 oz. pkg.)
3 Cups Vegetable juice cocktail (I use V-8)
3 tbsp. Quick Cooking Tapioca (not Jell-O Tapioca pudding mix)
1 tsp. Beef-flavor instant bouillon
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp. Monosodium glutamate (I leave this out)
¼ tsp Pepper
- Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat until hot
- Add beef, cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until meat is browned
- In a 3.5 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine browned beef and all remaining ingredients, mix well
- Cover; cook on low setting for 9 to 10 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender
Source: Pillsbury “One-Dish Meals Cookbook” on page 247 – Copywrite 1999 by The Pillsbury Company