Lovin' from the Oven is an exclusive feature at The Snarky Schoolteacher highlighting excellent recipes to help you self care from the inside out. Delicious recipes are brought to you by Nicole on Saturdays throughout the month. Let us know what you think by using the tag #SSOvenLovin on social media!
Welcome to this week's edition of Lovin' from the Oven! I'm excited to bring you a family recipe this week -- my mom's beef stew. Everyone knows that food brings people together, and this dish is no different. I have fond childhood memories of digging into this stew on cold winter days. It was always a treat because Mom only made it in the cold fall and winter months, and she always made it with snickerdoodle muffins.
I've been trying to branch out and expand my culinary repertoire of hearty winter recipes, and it dawned on me that I did not have this one in my recipe box! Like any good family recipe, it has morphed and changed over time, so there was no official written recipe my mom could share with me. I got the basics from her over the phone and have made it several times recently to try to nail down the perfect rendition. What I bring you today is my version of the recipe.
In addition to being hearty, flavorful, and delicious, this beef stew has two great qualities that the busy teacher will love: the ingredients are fairly simple and easy to prep ahead of time, and it's a perfect make-ahead meal that can easily be stored and re-heated for lunches or dinners throughout the week!
For this recipe, you will need an 8 quart Dutch oven or large stock pot. Heat the oil in the pan over medium-low heat while you peel and roughly chop the onions. Add one pound of stew beef to the pan along with the onions and a generous sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper and braise the meat. Drain the fat when meat is browned (I like to use my trusty OXO baster for this step).
While meat is braising, peel and chop carrots and clean and chop celery. I find it simpler to use baby carrots and cut them into half-inch pieces. Along with the onions, these vegetables can all be chopped ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers.
Add carrots and celery on top of the meat, then add 8 cups (2 quarts) beef stock. Add garlic powder, sage, and the bay leaf, then stir mixture to incorporate. Increase heat to medium or medium-high to bring the liquid to a simmer.
Meanwhile, wash and peel the potatoes, then cut them into cubes. I find that pre-peeled and chopped potatoes do not keep well, so you'll want to save this step for while you're waiting for the stew to simmer. Once the stew has begun to simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add potatoes to mixture, stir, and re-cover. Continue to simmer for 1.5 hours; you will notice that the stew is beginning to thicken. Finally, add the barley, stir, and continue to simmer covered for one more hour. If you prefer your stew to be more soup-like, you can add less barley (1/2 or 3/4 cup).
Turn off heat and allow to cool and thicken for 10-15 minutes while serving. And there you have it! With a little bit of prep work and a few hours on a weekend afternoon, you can put together this tasty dish and enjoy it all week long.
As we creep into the warmer spring months, take the time to enjoy this stew as one of your last hearty, rib-stickin' meals of the winter. I'd love to know what you think -- let me know in the comments below!
Have a great weekend, my friends... spring is almost here! Until next time, bon appetit!
Warm and Hearty Beef Stew
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