We are waiting for the first frost here. It's supposed to have happened for the past two nights. Monday was a flurry of activity in the garden. Tomatoes and peppers loaded into wagons. Handfuls of cilantro for the salsa verde pot. Tupperware containers in little hands, ready to gather the last red currants hanging to the bushes. Apples picked and placed in the little red wagon. Everything, as much as our arms could hold and we had pails for, trundled up into the screen porch and the house.
So with a busy evening planned, we needed something with little prep. A stew was needed. With a side of beef in the freezer, beef seemed the choice. I chose a blade roast, simply because it was in the milk crate at the top of the freezer and I didn't have my mittens with me to dig to the bottom. Beggars can't be choosers, right? And so here is the supper we had when we piled into the house with cold fingers and noses, albeit served at eight o'clock.
Easy sides included a tomato wedge salad with Black Krim, Persimmon and Prairie Pride tomatoes, red onion and parsley drizzled with a red wine vinegar/olive oil dressing. Cracked pepper on top. The second side was a cabbage slaw, carrots and cabbage pulled up that night and washed in the kitchen sink. Another vinegar and olive oil dressing, I tweaked it a bit by putting pickle juice in. The dill and garlic flavour are welcome additions. If I get fancy, I'll whisk in some dry mustard or dijon mustard from the fridge. Pretty fancy, eh?
This is a good meal for leftovers, if there are any. The coleslaw is great and the stew flavours have a chance to deepen by the next day.
Grass-fed Beef Stew with Smoked Salt and Garlic
3 lb blade roast, cut into 1" cubes
1 yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and rough mince
3 tomatoes, diced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked salt, or more, to your taste
1 tsp smoked paprika, or more, again, to your taste
1 cup of water
Fresh cracked pepper
Place blade roast cubes in cast iron casserole. Mix with onion and garlic. In a separate pan, at medium heat, sautée tomatoes in olive oil until confit. Add more olive oil if necessary to ensure tomatoes almost bordering on confit. Grass-fed beef is lean, feel free to add some fat via the olive oil. Once the tomatoes are softened and slumpy. Pour over the beef in the casserole. Sprinkle the smoked salt and paprika over the tomatoes and beef. Pour the cup of water into the casserole as well. Beef stock would work here too, add some oomph. However, I was time crunched, the store was closed as it always is on Monday and so I used what I had, which was water.
Put casserole in the oven. Because I skipped the searing step, I left it open, without a lid. Cook at 300 F for 3 hours or beef chunks are tender. The exposed beef chunks on top caramelized. I stirred every hour or so so more beef could be caramelized. Serve over hot rice, white, brown, basmati, whatever type you might like (although I wouldn't do straight wild rice, but that's a personal choice). If needed, stir in more water as needed to create a bit of a sauce.