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Old 09-21-2009, 03:59 PM   #1
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Help me make beef stew.....

My grandma used to make a beef stew that I really, really liked. She has dementia and is in a nursing home, and has been for several years, so I can't ask her. I was wondering if anyone here can help me make something similar.

Here's what I know:
She cooked very simply. No spices other than salt and pepper, nothing fancy. The stew was brown, so it didn't have tomato juice or anything in it.
It had stew meat, potatoes, peas, and carrots; that's all I remember it having.

I just don't know how to make the brown "gravy" or whatever it was.

Does anyone have any ideas? She never used a cookbook, never a recipe or anything.

Thanks for any suggestions...

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Old 09-22-2009, 07:29 AM   #2
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I have a fantastic recipe that I use, but I am heading out in a few minutes send me a pm to remind me and I will look for it for you.
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:59 AM   #3
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To get the gravy she probably coated the beef in flour and then cooked in in oil on the stove- this will create a gravy base when you add water to the stew it should thicken up but you always thicken it more by mixing together either cornstarch of flour with a little water (you want it to be a thickened liquid when you add it in), and adding that to the stew.

I have found the key to a thick stew is also to cook it for a long time.

She may have also used freah vegtables as they tend to have more flavor than canned/frozen.

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Old 09-22-2009, 01:53 PM   #4
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I haven't made mine this way in years because of the fat content, but I did basically what rlovew said...

Mix some salt & pepper in flour & then coat the beef cubes - not a light coating either. Brown the beef in oil before doing anything else. It doesn't need to be cooked through, but you definitely want to stir it to sear on all sides if possible. That's where your color (and flavor) is going to come from. Once that's done, add water & heat until it begins to bubble. (Do NOT let it actually boil.) Immediately add the fresh or frozen veggies & bring back to the bubbling point...again do not let it boil. Put a lid on the pot, reduce the heat & let it simmer for a couple hours. Remember to stir it...especially when the heat is high.

I also would add V-8 instead of tomato juice - usually toward the end - just for flavor. As long as there's more water than juice, it usually retains a dark brown color so it's hard to tell that the juice is there. It just adds a nice flavor. And at the point where you add the veggies you can pour in 2 - 4 Tablespoons of Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master. That also boosts the brown color & flavor.

Let us know how it works out for you!
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Old 09-22-2009, 01:58 PM   #5
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I use canned beef broth and coat the stew meat with flour, which thickens the "gravy".

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Old 09-22-2009, 06:34 PM   #6
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My mom made it this way my entire life. Take about 2 pounds stew meat cubes (I now use a leaner top round) and dust with flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat some oil in a heavy dutch oven (I use cast iron as did mom) and brown the meat in batches, turning to brown all sides. Add all the meat to the pot and cover with water or beef broth and 2 large bay leaves. Bring to a boil ad reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 1 hour. Add in veggies of your choice, I use potatoes, carrots, onions and fresh green beans, but you could use peas and/or corn as well. Cover and cook another hour or until veggies are tender (if using frozen peas, beans or corn add to the pot for the last 10 minutes or they will be super mushy); return to a boil. Make a slurry of flour and water (I use Wondra, just follow the package directions) add the slurry to the pot, stirring constantly and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened. I also add a bit of Kitchen Bouquet (or any browning sauce) to add color and depth to the gravy. You can add garlic as well for a bit more flavor.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:44 PM   #7
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Thank you very much, all of you! I'm going to try what you've suggested.

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Old 09-23-2009, 07:09 AM   #8
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I use beef stock instead of water (a stock cube is fine!) and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, Sometimes half and half stock and either beer (dark beer - guinness is good) or else cider or apple juice. But it is the flour coating that makes the thickness - works like making a roux
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