Old-Time Beef Stew

October is now here, and in the mid-west that means the thermometer greatly fluctuates from the morning to afternoon. Our weather can be quite silly. As I write this now (in the morning) the thermometer is saying it is a crisp 44 degrees F, but by noon today we are to reach temperatures in the mid 70s. With such changes in temperature my cravings change dramatically too. In the morning I am ready to bake bread and make soup all day, but soon after I have that craving the sun warms everything up and then I don’t feel like turning on the oven and heating up the house. That is where my craving for stew started, in the morning when it was still 67 degrees in my house; I was going to begin my stew after lunch. By lunch time it was a warm 77 degrees in our house and I did not feel like making stew, so I put it off to the next day.I did finally make that beef stew, and it was delicious. It is too bad the leftovers got shoved to the back of the fridge and was forgotten.

I used Paula Dean‘s recipe for Old-Time Beef Stew. I did a few things differently than she did. I chopped up my carrots, celery, onion and 2 pounds potatoes. I drizzled them with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. I roasted them at 425 degrees F for about one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.


Red Wine-Braised Chuck Roast

I have gone gourmet, or at least last night’s dinner tasted gourmet. It was an absolutely delicious chuck roast if I do say so myself. This dinner demands little effort. I served this roast with a side of creamy parmesan thyme polenta (recipe below).

The chuck comes from the upper shoulder/neck area of the cow. It can contain connective tissue and collagen. The collagen provides lots of flavor to this meat as it melts during the cooking process. This cut is typically used for slow cooking, braising, roasting or stewing.

Red Wine-Braised Chuck Roast
3-4 lb chuck roast
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
2 yellow onions (thinly sliced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 c beef stock
2 T tomato sauce
1 750ml red wine (I used a Shiraz)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in dutch oven or heavy ovenproof pot over medium high heat. Pat roast dry, and sprinkle with salt/pepper on all sides. Place roast in pot and brown on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Place roast on plate.

Add onions and saute until they become a pale golden brown color, about 10 minutes. Add salt/pepper, garlic, thyme, tomato sauce, beef stock and wine. Bring to boil. Return roast to the pot and cover with the lid. Put in oven and roast, after 1 hour turn the roast and continue to cook for another hour to 1 1/2 hours, you want the roast extremely tender. Take roast out of pan and let it rest on a plate for 20-30 minutes. Slice roast on the bias, place some onions on the roast and pour wine sauce over the roast.

While the roast is resting, take this “thyme” to make your polenta.

Creamy Parmesan Thyme Polenta
2 c chicken stock
2 c water
1 c polenta (ground corn meal)
1/2 tsp salt
3 T unsalted butter
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp thyme

Bring chicken stock, water and salt to a boil. Slowly add polenta (corn meal) whisking the entire time. Turn heat down to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn heat off, add butter, thyme and Parmesan cheese. Stir well.