Comfort food

Brad and I had a deal this weekend.  He would help me clean for our guests on Saturday and I would make him his mom’s beef stew. I’ve posted this before, but I made some adjustments this time which made it turn out waaaaay better.  This version is definitely going to replace the other one in my recipe tab.

On our trip to Earth Fare on Saturday, I bought about 2 1/4 pounds of grass-fed chuck roast.  The grass-fed variety was not on display, but when I asked if they carried it, the butcher was soooo nice and helpful to go in the back and cut this just for me.  Everyone there is so nice.  I just really love shopping there.

Vegetarians look away.

I started off by cubing the meat.  It was easiest for me to work on two cutting boards.  I would cut off a chunk then cut it into smaller pieces on the other board.

Next,  brown  your meat in about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of EVOO.

Add meat to your crockpot.  Chop four large carrots, four large red potatoes (I left the skin on) and one large Vidalia onion.  Place in crockpot.

Add big handful of salt…you’ll need more later probably.

Add a small can of tomato sauce, then add enough water to cover the ingredients.  Give it a few good stirs and turn crockpot on.  If you have a good 8-12 hours, put it on low.  I put mine on high because I got a late start on it in the morning.  It cooked on high for about three hours and then I put it on low until dinner time.

Walk away and don’t do anything to it until you’re about to eat.  About 30 minutes before dinner, I tasted it and added a good bit more salt…probably another handful.  You never really know until you taste it.  I also added a lot of fresh ground pepper, no measurement required.  It’s a lot of food so you need to add a lot if you like pepper.

I wanted the juice to thicken up so I added about 1/4 cup all purpose flour a little at a time while stirring quickly, probably in about three separate batches.  It’s impossible to stir fast enough with all of the other ingredients in the crock pot so you will probably have to skim off some of the flour clumps that form at the top. No big deal.  Put the lid back on and turn temperature to simmer for about 30 more minutes while the juice thickens.

In the mean time, I made quite possibly the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I used this recipe for whole wheat biscuits.

Basically just do whatever the recipe says and you’ll be rewarded with these.  Sooo darn goooood.

I was really hoping for brussel sprouts, but we had zucchini on it’s last leg in the fridge.  I whipped out my new grill pan to cook them.

Table for two

The stew came out perfectly.  Brad went back for thirds.

This was in Brad’s words “comfort food”.  It’s been a while since I made something like this.  I tend to stay away from red meat and really don’t eat much meat in general.  While on our honeymoon, I read In Defense of Food, and it really got me thinking about the quality of the meat that I do eat.

I discussed my feelings with Brad on this and I am going to make a conscious effort to purchase more meat that is grass fed and organic.  As consumers I don’t think we have any idea how the cattle industry (and probably other meat industries) have changed in the past fifty years.  It still tastes the same so we assume it’s the same stuff our 90 year old grandparents ate.  And look how long they lived, right?  I guess I’m a little concerned about how these changes in how our food is treated when it’s alive will affect us in years to come.  I don’t know if I’m willing to take that chance to see what might happen and what might happen to my future children.  This is why I asked the butcher to go to the back and look for the grass-fed chuck roast and why I’m now lobbying for a freezer at our new house.  I figure that we can buy good quality grass-fed beef and organic free-range poultry in bulk this way, which is always cheaper.  If you haven’t read Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food and Food Rules and you want to know more about changes in the American diet in the past century, you really should.  He gives a pretty compelling case for rethinking our modernization of the food industry.

Let’s follow this discussion up with something less serious…

Rascal  playing patty cake for the privilege of licking my stew bowl.

Doesn’t he look just like a little ewock?  I think I feel a Halloween costume idea coming on. 😉