I got a major chuckle the other day when looking at my site stats and saw that one visitor had been referred to my page by using the search term “not sexy stew.” Of course I immediately assumed that they were referencing my Moroccan tagine escapade, but couldn’t help but wonder if there’s someone out there who just wanted to make something hideous for dinner. Who knows? The possible scenarios go on and on but rather than speculate, I must give the people what they want, right? So, my mysterious and hungry reader who retains a possible affinity for culinary creations that would never “still be in the running toward become America’s Next Top Model,” for you, a simple beef and parsnip stew. You’re welcome!
The problem with stewed meats is that they’re just not that visually appealing. That is to say, when I’m sitting down to dinner, viewing it under the filter of candlelight after a glass of red wine, I think it looks pretty darn edible. But in broad daylight, through the lens of my camera it really has a different vibe. Luckily this is the only problem stewed meats must contend with because other than that, they are so tender and tasty!
Many beef stews I have come to know over the years include potato. Not this one! I had some crusty bread that I was looking forward to having with dinner and I don’t usually enjoy eating bread and potatoes together. Solution? Parsnips. Parsnips aren’t really related to potatoes except that their coloring is similar. They are actually a root vegetable comparable with the carrot, and have a most appealing sweet and buttery flavor. Put them in your stew! It might not be sexy but it will warm you to the core.
Beef and Parsnip Stew
1 ½ lbs. Stew Meat Cubes (available at most grocery store meat counters)
¼ C All Purpose Flour
2 + 2 T Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
4 Cloves Garlic, crushed
2 C Fresh Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Large Parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 C Red Wine
4 C Beef Broth
1 C Frozen Peas, thawed
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
Chopped Fresh Parsley, to garnish
Directions: In a medium bow, toss the beef cubes with flour until coated on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat 2 T oil over medium heat. Working in two batches, brown the beef on all sides, then transfer to a plate. Add 2 T oil to the pot. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms while scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook vegetables, while stirring for 2 minutes. Add carrots and parsnips, cooking while stirring for 2-3 minutes more.
Add red wine, beef broth, bay leaves, and thyme to pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add return beef cubes to pot. Add thawed peas and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened and beef is tender, about 1 hour. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with parsley and serve, preferably with crusty bread and a glass of red wine.