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Recipes and Stories

22 January 2016 Lazy Day Beef Stew

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22 January 2016 Lazy Day Beef Stew

Blustery winter days like this one, when so much of the eastern seaboard is blanketed with snow, just call for a hearty stew that can fill the house with wonderful smells and fill those in the house with warmth and contentment. I published this stew last fall in a Savannah Morning News story, but it’s ideal for a lazy winter day and really does live up to its name, since there’s no browning and everything is mixed together all at once in the pot in which it cooks; the extra-low simmer makes it possible to add all the vegetables at once. Best of all, it can be made in the slow cooker or the oven.

My mother couldn’t count the number of times she made this when my brothers and I were growing up. We loved it and she could throw it together and forget about it. To this day it’s one of the aromas that best says “home” to me.

We always called it “Brackett’s Stew” because the recipe came from close family friend Delilah Bracket. She was a lovely woman with many gifts, but one of them was not a penchant for cooking. Her idea of a good time did not include puttering in the kitchen. However, like my mother, Miss Delilah had three boys to keep fed, so she was always looking for something that was delicious, nourishing, and easy as sin.

Yes, there is a can of tomato soup in it. Yes, there is Worcestershire sauce in it. If those things offend your gourmet sensibilities, try to get over it and make it anyway: it’s really good.

Serves 4-6

2 pounds lean stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
4 ribs celery, washed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3-4 large boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 10-3/4-ounce can condensed tomato soup
½ can water
Chopped parsley, optional

1. You can make this in the slow cooker or the oven. Choose a 6 quart slow-cooker or 5-7-quart enameled iron Dutch oven. If using the oven, position a rack in the center of it and preheat it to 275° F. Combine beef, carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes in the ceramic liner of the slow cooker or the Dutch oven and gently toss to mix.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire. Add soup and water and gently toss until evenly mixed. Cover tightly and, if using the slow cooker, cook on high for 1 hour and low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Or bake until the meat and vegetables are fork tender, about 5 hours.

3. Garnished with parsley if you want to fancy it up and serve it hot with crusty bread.

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