FTLComm - Tisdale - January 27, 2001
What can be complicated about making a beef stew, you buy some stew meat, cut up some vegetables, add a bullion cube or two and throw it in the oven. A stew is an inexpensive meal and people get what they get. Well that is how I usually do it but my wife makes a stew with dumplings and she uses tomatoes and gives her stew a nice tomato flavour. Others have their own way of making stew but what if you are putting your first one together, how much flour will give your sauce the right colour and consistency, and what can you do to make it look and taste great every time?
To solve these problems this stew is one your guests will not only smile about but elevates stew a good deal above the ordinary cheap-what-ever's-in-the-fridge meal. The goal is to make it simple, get a super sauce and hit the nutritional mark with a all-in-one oven cooked dish.
The main ingredient of any stew is the meat and stew meat is traditionally ends and bits that result from the butcher's work as they make other cuts. It usually is less tender and has more fat than most of our diets need. Most food stores take their fresh meat and that which does not sell is frozen and offered at a reduced price. Look for this bargain and you will find the number one ingredient to make Beef Stew Supreme. I was able to find a nice package of round steak, nicely marbled and half the price of fresh steak, actually the same price as fresh stew meat.
Now lets consider the sauce, a great beefy flavoured sauce is essential for a beef stew and to get the right consistency is hard, a little to much fluid and the meal just doesn't look or serve right and over cooked the stew is dry and sticky. So there is a need to get things right and the simplest way to do that is cheat. From the bulk area of your food store buy just over a cup of beef gravy, problem nearly solved.

Utensils: Ingredients  
- A large roaster
- share knife
- measuring cup
- fry pan
- vegetable peeler
- cutting board
- mixing bowl
- 2 hand sized round steaks about 3/4 inch thick
- 1 cup and 1/4 of bulk beef gravy
- 2 cups no-name biscuit mix
- eight medium size potatoes
- eight carrots
- three medium onions
- cup and half of frozen peas
- two cups of milk
- twenty fresh mushrooms
- half a rutabaga (turnip)
- half cup of flour
- worchestershire sauce
- pepper


Assembling Beef Stew Supreme:
The measurements and quantities depend on the size of your roaster and need not be precise.

Cube the steak into appropriate sizes, I prefer a smaller size than most stew meat is cut but like it just a bit bigger than a one inch cube. In a fry pan add some canola oil and brown the steak, do not cook completely, just brown it, if you have to high a temperature cool it down with the beef in the pan by adding a little water. Once browned, put the steak in the bottom of your roaster. To decide about the right amount of beef or vegetables, there needs to be an even covering of the roaster. Make sure that all of the juices from the steak, or added water, is poured into the roaster.

Now cube your rutabaga into one inch cubes and spread the pieces evening over the steak.

Next peel and cut up your potatoes, do not cut them up to small as you want the final product to still have definable material. In a good stew the various vegetables should look different from one another and by making the potato pieces slightly larger than the turnip pieces makes them clearly different. Once again the right amount of potato is established by having almost a solid layer of potato in the roaster.

Scrape your carrots with a vegetable peeler and cut them up any way you want. Some folks like carrots in a stew in three inch slender sticks and other people like them as round slices. Personally I like both so I cut them up in a variety of ways. I decide when I have enough carrots by seeing the amount of carrot evening spread out in the roaster on top of the potatoes. You do not want to put to much carrot in a stew as they have a strong flavour and cooking them seems to bring that flavour out so my stew has about six good sized carrots.

Peel and slice up your onions. This is one vegetable that you can not have to much of, in a stew it adds flavour and is an outstanding nutritional contribution to the meal.

I like about two big handfuls of fresh mushrooms in my stew and I wash them and cut them up distributing them evenly over the other contents of the filling roaster.

The peas are needed in the stew to give some contrasting colour but cut green beans would do the same. About a cup and a half seems to be the right amount, actually two handfuls.

At this point your stew should be about an inch and a half from the top of the roaster, if it is higher than that you may have a problem.

Mix the bulk beef gravy with water, I like to do this in a warming fry pan but it can be done cold just as easily and pour the mixture evenly over the stew.

This is when you add the pepper, as with other ingredients you can grind fresh pepper over the stew from end to end or just sprinkle black pepper from a shaker, but do so evenly so that you have about the same amount over the whole surface. Follow this by sprinkling in some worchestershire sauce. Little is better than a lot as you want to bring out the beef flavour not have a worchestershire sauce stew. Add no salt, the bulk beef gravy tends to be salty and will give your stew all of the salt that is needed.

Using a flour sifter sprinkle about a cup of flour over the stew, you will have the right amount of flour when the whole stew is just becoming white. Take a large serving spoon and from end to end lift the contents from the bottom of the stew to the top, gently turn the contents vertically to mix things up so that cooking will be even in the roaster. At this point you are almost done and you now add enough water to bring the fluid level in the stew just about to the top of the mixture. Do not add so much fluid that the mixture is covered.

Slip the stew in the oven at about 350º with the roaster top in place and clean up the kitchen. Your stew will be ready to serve in about an hour and a half but if you want to delay dinner, no problem it will be fine in two hours.

Fifteen minutes before you want to set this stew on the table, prepare the biscuit mix. Use a mixing bowl and combine two cups of milk with two cups of biscuit mix. If you want dumplings reduce the amount of milk or increase the amount of mix. In this recipe we want to be able to pour the topping so the mixture should be a fluid. To thin the mixture just add a little water and mix with a spoon. Twelve minute before serving pour the mixture on the top of the stew covering the entire top and cook for ten minutes to finish it off add a couple more minutes of cooking with the oven set to broil and that will give the top a nice golden colour. Watch this closely because it could easily over cook the top if the roaster is to close to the top of the oven.

Set the stew on the table and smile. With its top it can sit without cooling for some time so this makes a great meal if you have any interruptions from the time you set the food out and folks sit down to dine.

There are two things that can reduce your stew's quality. Over cooking the meat in the fry pan will make it tough and having to serve the stew before it has had lots of time to cook. If you rush this one there will be more fluid than you might want but the flavours should be fine.
Timothy W. Shire