Paired with Cheddar Biscuits
That stew meat I had squirreled away in the freezer beckoned.
Inspired by a vegan meal I’d made for a friend, I had been following a more or less plant-based diet for the past two weeks. I might include milk, cheese, or eggs with breakfast, but lunches and dinners were meatless. As a reformed but still evolving finicky eater, I wouldn’t have thought I could keep things interesting; but I brought out some tried and true recipes and explored some new ones, like black bean tacos and sweet potato falafel, and I wasn’t missing meat at all.
I might have kept it going a little longer if I hadn’t needed to make some room in the freezer. And that cubed chuck roast was just sitting there. Hmmm. Come to think of it, beef stew sounded mighty good.
Rather than revisit a very tasty beef and bean stew I’ve made before (after two weeks of vegan dining a little break from legumes was in order), I wanted to try a new recipe—one that put a slightly different spin on traditional meat and potatoes.
Mission accomplished. I found a beef stew in “Soups + Sides” by Catherine Walthers, published by Lake Isle Press, that roasts the potatoes and adds green beans as a tweak on a more or less traditional recipe. She pairs her stew with a recipe for cheddar biscuits, so I made them, too.
Roast the Veggies to Enhance Flavor
The recipe suggests browning the beef in two pots, for twice the amount of browned bits. I could just see the outrage on the comments scroll on the New York Times Cooking app decrying the need to wash an extra pot. My thought exactly; so I browned all the meat in the soup pot. The recipe also suggests roasting the potatoes and boiling the beans and carrots before adding them to the stew. I could see more objections to those extra steps (and extra pots) as well; however, I decided the added depth of flavor that would come with roasting all of the veggies would be worth an extra sheet pan. I roasted the potatoes with the carrots alongside, then added the green beans a few minutes toward the end before transferring them all to the stew pot.
Since the recipe calls for the stew to be cooked in the oven and I wanted to roast the veggies in there at a higher temperature, I removed the stew after one and a half hours and kept it on the stovetop set to low, since a little extra low heat won’t do stew meat any harm. That way I could crank up the heat on the veggies.
Great results on the first try; it was a really yummy stew. Lucky for me, because even though I halved the recipe there were lots of leftovers. The biscuits were excellent—I made them with chives—and paired well with it. Of course, I had leftovers for them as well, and they reheated beautifully on the rack of my toaster oven. I tried one out as a breakfast sandwich with a fried egg and it was great.
After a few meals I still had extra stew beef and broth, so I froze it for later. I’ll throw in some roasted veggies when I eventually serve it-—maybe change things up with parsnips, sweet potatoes, peas, or cauliflower. One thing about exploring vegan options, it makes you less reliant on meat as the dominant feature of any meal. That’s pretty liberating, and has encouraged me to be a more creative cook. I had better make more room in my freezer.
Make this stew in a large, heavy-bottomed stove-to-oven soup pot, such as a Le Creuset. Cut a chuck roast into cubes for melt-in-your-mouth flavorful beef; if you start with a 3-pound piece, you might end up with about 2 1/2 pounds after the fat is cut out.
3 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered or cut into chunks for roasting
2 cups green beans, cut in halves or thirds
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 Preheat the oven to 350°. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides in 2 batches. Remove meat from pot and set aside.
2 Add the onion and sauté 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or so. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the wine and tomato paste, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to pot. Add the stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme; bring to a simmer. Add the meat; return to simmer, cover, and put in the oven to cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
3 Meanwhile, place the potatoes on a baking sheet, and mix with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; add salt to taste. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Place the green beans in the top of a steamer set over simmering water and steam, 4 minutes. Run the beans under cold water to stop the cooking. Steam the carrots 2 to 3 minutes, then run them under cold water.
4 Just before serving, add the potatoes to the stew and reheat gently. Stir in the carrots, green beans, and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper.
NOTE FROM THE KITCHEN: Brown the beef in 2 pots — the soup pot and another large skillet — to get twice the amount of flavorful brown bits left after sautéing. After you remove the meat, scrape the brown bits from the skillet into the soup pot. Cook the vegetables on the side to get the best texture and then add them to the stew.
Warm from the oven, these biscuits could accompany quite a few other soups as well. Enjoy them with beef, chicken, and vegetable soups.
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted cold butter, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or chives or parsley (optional)
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese or pepper-Jack cheese
1 to 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
MAKES 12 TO 16 BISCUITS, DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE CUTTER
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse until the mixture forms small pebbles.
2 .Turn the flour mixture into a bowl and add the dill and cheese. Mix in 1 cup buttermilk, then mix in the remaining buttermilk a little at a time.
3. Turn dough out onto another piece of parchment paper; sprinkle a little flour on top to keep your hands from sticking to the dough, and lightly press out with your hands until about 1 inch high. Using a biscuit cutter, cut into rounds. Gather and reuse the scraps. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a biscuit comes out clean, 16 to 20 minutes.
Recipes From “Soups + Sides” by Catherine Walthers, Lake Isle Press, 2010
Originally published at https://www.lakeislepress.com on January 28, 2021.