Mmmmmmm Colorado Beef Stew

Fall has arrived to the front- range. Sure, the Aspens are turning and there is a subtle smell of wood smoke in the air. The first meal that I think off when the air gets cold and noses start to run is a classic beef stew and homemade bread. It is not glamorous but it is comfort food, warm going down and herby to the nose.

There are many variations on the classic American Beef stew. Originally it was made from game and not beef at all. Elk and

deer are among the colonial versions, buffalo along the plains and beef. It is easy to jazz up a beef stew, a red wine addition is always nice with a bit of tomato. Wild mushrooms make a wonderful accompaniment to stews and add an earthiness and texture to the fiber of the vegetables and “meatiness” of the meat. One thing remains the same whatever version you are cooking; slow simmer. Stewing means “a method of cooking by which food is barely covered with liquid and simmered slowly for a long period of time in a tightly covered pot.”(Food Lover’s Companion) my favorite part of stews, other than eating them is the smells. Slowly but surely your taste buds begin to tickle than water as your nose wakes up your stomach and plants images of the feast to come. Warm, rich browns with pops of orange and white and an occasional dark green tantalize your eyes to come close and smell deeper. The smells take on a courting effect with your stomach. Rosemary dances with the sweetness of onions and meat waltzes with a mire-poix of vegetables. It is enough for a novice to go mad and give in to the tummy before the masterpiece is done. But those of us, who are well schooled in stews, know the rewards of patience. We know the contentment of savory nectar of the gods and the anticipation of meat melting like butter on the eager tongue. At this moment in time, there is nothing else that can match. Except, sopping the last little bit of juice from the bottom of the bowl with a piece of crusty bread, sitting back and…appreciating.

Here is a wonderful soul warmer upper, very classic and simple:

Beef Stew:

2 T. vegetable oil
2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1-½ cups beef broth (make your own if you can.)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, smashed and cut into two
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of rosemary
3 sprigs of thyme
4 carrots, peeled and sliced on bias
3 potatoes, largely diced
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
4- inch square of cheesecloth and string
Salt and pepper to taste

Use a 3-½ court Dutch oven or sauce pot-cast iron is great because it retains even cooking heat so well. Put all of your herbs in the cheesecloth and tie in a bundle with the string, this is a bouquet garni.

Heat your olive oil and brown your meat. I always add a bit of salt to the meat, it helps to brown. Add the flour and coat thoroughly, it is ok if some of the flour sticks to the bottom of the pan and browns a bit. Add all of the other ingredients stir and add the broth. Bring to a medium simmer and reduce to a nice but slow simmer, cover tightly and put into a 325 F oven, let simmer for about three hours until the beef is fork tender. You may leave on the stove- top and simmer; sometimes it is harder to keep regulated. When done, remove the bouquet garni before serving.

Hopefully you have some nice crusty bread standing by and a nice bottle of red wine waiting in the wings.Enjoy and Spread the Love!

Nicole Morrish

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