2017-01-13 / Opinions & Editorial

The Gourmet Grammy: Beef stew for a winter’s night

A column by Diane Beaudoin

With the winter months staring us in the face, who doesn’t think of comfort food at the end of a long cold day? One of my family favorites for not only comfort and warmth, but also ease of cooking in the trusty crock pot is beef stew, but my recipe gives it a little twist.

For those of you that may not know a lot of how I cook, but also the amounts I usually make, I end up feeding several people every single night. My grandkids come over, my grown kids, I feed my antique mother, as well as myself, my husband, and pretty much anyone who shows up at dinner time. We are never really sure who is going to be at the table, so my theory for meals is to shop as thriftily as possible. I do purchase meat in large packages, and over the years have learned that the lesser cuts of meats can be made as tender as the most expensive cuts if you do it right.

My way of doing it right includes the crock pot, and either ginger ale, Coke or Pepsi as the main liquid. The sugars in the soda act as a tenderizer for the meat when cooked low and slow. They also add a touch of sweetness that is pretty much hidden in the background of the food. You may not even know it is there; that’s how subtle it is. The sugars cook down over time and put a wonderful spin on an old traditional favorite. Also, if you are not a red meat eater, just replace the beef with chicken, but keep everything else the same.

When I cooked professionally I made this recipe up, and it went over well on the buffet tables at the hotel I worked at. I also made this stew when we lived and worked on the dude ranch in Powderhorn, Colorado, and it was also a big hit there.

I do this in my large crock pot, so if you use a smaller crock, just adjust the recipe to fit in. You really cannot mess this up. It’s a straightforward and charming way to feed your troops. What I also do is start it all in the evening and let it cook all night long. That gives the sugars time to do their magic, and actually when you wake up in the morning, your dinner is already done. I put my crock on keep warm all day so the mingling of flavors slows down, but it stays hot and ready for whatever time we choose to eat. All I do before we do sit down to dinner is make a batch of either Bisquick biscuits or one of the pop open the canister biscuits, and we are ready to go.

So here is a true made up recipe for the long winter nights ahead, or a snowy weekend that you can just sit back, pop in a movie and not worry about what to make for dinner for the snow shoveling or snow plowing people in your life. It’s also great to heat up and put in a Thermos if you do have to be outside moving snow. Enjoy!

2-3 pounds of inexpensive stew
beef, or steak cut into cubes
White potatoes, cut into cubes (I
use five potatoes — we like them)
3 carrots, cut into medallions
1 stalk celery cut into small pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
(you can mix and match these soups
anyway you want)
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
Few drops of Gravy Master

Mix all the wet soups together, then add the dry soup mix and blend it well. Add your Gravy Master — put as much as you like; it darkens the base — and mix it all.

Layer potatoes, carrots, celery and meat in the crock, in that order. Now pour the soup mixture on top of it all, and with a big spoon, mix it all in with the food in the crock pot. Once you’ve mixed it all together, add the ginger ale, or whichever soda you choose. It will bubble a little bit, then settle down. Add enough soda to come to the top of the food. Put the lid on and set on high for 10 hours, stir it occasionally. If your crock is a fast cooker, turn it to low after five hours. When the potatoes and carrots are soft, set it on keep warm.

That is a wrap!

Return to top