Now serving: beef stew for the belly (and heart)

Welcome ye to my cyberspace cafe.

Pull out a beverage from the free bar and a chair to the table for a lovely bowl of beef stew. A stew that’s flavorful, warming, with chunks of carrots and potatoes perfect to the bite: firm on first impact of the teeth then soft; meat tender, in a savory thick sauce enhanced with the enlivening floral rosemary. Therein lies the secret to this marvelous stew.

As you dine, you may hear the crunch of dried fallen autumn leaves beneath your feet and sniff the subtle sweet scent of the foliage in the air. Don’t be shy about asking for seconds or thirds. At the cyberspace cafe, the food never runs out.

Beef Stew

2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
4 cups water
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

1.      In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.

2.     Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.

My notes:

I didn’t have parsley and the dish still held its own.

I passed on the celery and substituted about a cup of frozen peas for color. Their shape brought a homey quaintness and, sheesh, I just like peas.

I leave the skins on potatoes.

If using beef bouillon cubes, do not salt the stew! The cubes add plenty of salt, their main ingredient. I am not a fan of these cubes. But I am a girl on a budget. Next time I’ll give up the convenience of cubes for canned beef broth.

I added a pinch more rosemary. If you follow suit, don't overdo it. A little of this herb goes a long way.

Most importantly, double — even triple — the cornstarch and cold water. The original amount is insufficient for a thick stew sauce. While we’re on it, a law about cornstarch: be sure to dissolve it in the cold water separately before introducing it slowly into the stew with a spoon.

Now let us break bread together. Pass the French loaf and pint of amber ale! Of course you're invited over tomorrow too for it is true that stew improves after a day of rest. Now dig in.  

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