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There is nothing like a good beef stew. Many people are scared off because a good stew takes at least 2 hrs to cook. However, the actual prep time for a beef stew is maybe 15 minutes tops. The rest is cooking time during which you don’t actually have to be in the kitchen (just check in on it every once in a while).
(If you really really can’t stand the idea of starting supper 2 hrs early, take all the ingredients except the thickener and dump them in a crock pot on low in the morning. Then supper will be ready for you at the end of the day)
So, to make beef stew, you start with
BEEF: For stew you can use the cheap cuts. Cube your beef, and sear it in a little oil in your pan. You may choose to add onions and garlic at this point.
Next you add
LIQUID: Cover the beef in the pot with liquid. You can use water, beer, wine, chicken stock or beef stock. If you do use wine, only use a little bit and use stock or water for the rest.
At this point you may want to add
SEASONING: You can really experiment here. Go classic with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Try adding dried herbs like oregano or fennel. Some recipes call for mustard or soy sauce. Or go with something different and use Moroccan spice combinations involving cumin, cinnamon, and other spices. (Just find a Moroccan cookbook and look up a tangine recipe for good spice combos).
Let it cook, covered, over low heat for 1 1/2 hrs. Check on it occasionally to make sure all the liquid hasn’t evaporated. Then you can add
VEGETABLES: Cubes and slices of carrot, celery, potato, parsnip, squash, or whatever your heart desires. Yellow, waxy potatoes hold their shape better after cooking. Middle Eastern recipes may call for rehydrated dried fruits like apricots or raisins.
If you need to, add more liquid, and continue cooking covered for 1/2 hr. At this point you will have a very flavorful meal that has a soup consistency to the liquid, so you may want to add
THICKENER: To give the liquid a more gravy like consistency, place 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour or corn starch in a small bowl. Slowly stir water into it until you have a smooth slurry (no lumps!). Pour the slurry into the stew and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until appropriately thickened.