Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sweet and Savory Beef Stew

This recipe has cherries... and butternut squash... yeah, that got your attention, didn't it? Mine too. The beef stew I knew growing up was full of boring (but delicious! Thanks Mom!) things like carrots and celery.
But dired cherries and chunks of butternut squash just sounded so exotic and tasty that I was eager to try this out when I first came across it a few weeks ago.

I made a few changes to the original to simplify some of the unnecessarily complicated ingredients or steps. And for the last step I threw it in the crock pot and added extra broth, but that made the squash turn to puree instead of staying in nice little chunks... so I recommend sticking to the original method there.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Sweet and Savory Beef Stew

•2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
•8 ounces bottom-round beef, trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (at my grocery store they had beef cubes for stew all pre-cut and I was all about that)
•1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced... Or half of a yellow onion, who keeps shallots around? (I didn't even know what a shallot was until about 2 months ago)
•1 teaspoon dried thyme
•1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage... It's worth it to pick up this spice and keep it on hand, it adds an awesome flavor and I've found it coming in handy with a lot of autumny recipes
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
•2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
•1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth... This is equal to a little more than half of one of the small 15 oz cans
•2 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash... It took me about 1/4 of a sqaush to get this much
•1/3 cup dried cherries... You can find these in the grocery store next to the raisins and craisins

1.Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large ovenproof saucepan (or a regular pan if you don't have a cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3.Reduce heat to medium-low, add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and shallot/onion to the pan; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Stir in thyme, sage, salt and pepper; cook for 30 seconds. Return the beef to the pan and sprinkle with flour. Cook, stirring often, until the flour browns, about 3 minutes. Stuff will stick to the bottom of the pan, which goes against my instincts, but just go with it... Pour in broth; scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in squash.

4.Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. (Or if you don't have one of those fancy skillets, just dump it all in an oven safe casserole dish and cover with foil.) Bake for 1 hour. Stir in cherries, cover and continue baking until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes more. Makes 2 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each, and each serving is 405 calories.
I served mine with cornbread, it was tasty.

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