Food + Wine

Brown Sugar – Balsamic Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

I would have posted this days ago, but then life got in the way.

Ahh, life.  It’s a beauty and a beast, isn’t it?  I feel like I haven’t stopped in months.  And things keep getting piled on top of other things that were never finished or resolved, and then I find myself getting dizzy and losing focus, but then something else gets added to the pile, and I have to keep blinking until I can see straight again and…

*d e e p  b r e a t h*

I’ve been working on taking more time for myself lately.  Taking time to breathe and regulate.

And by ‘working on’, I really mean ‘thinking about’.

While I do a million things at once.

But that’s still progress, right?

Awareness is the first step.

Right?

And now to this recipe.

I had a good friend over to hang out one day last week and he got to sort of watch my life happen… and I swear I didn’t realize how fast I move or how many things I do at one time until I saw the look on his face or heard how many times he asked me if I needed any help… In the middle of doing something else, I jumped up onto the counter to get something from a cabinet (I am a very short woman) and I guess it was somewhat unordinary, because I heard a ‘holy smokes’ and immediately felt his presence directly behind me to catch me if I fell… which, I’m assuming appeared highly possible at the speed at which I was moving.

I did not fall.

It really did make me realize I just do not stop.  I dream of stopping.  I do.  I fantasize about a day when I don’t have to do anything and just stay in bed all day… but then I try.  And I feel like I’ve accomplished something huge.  I’m so proud and ready to be done with it.  Then I look at the clock and it’s only been fifteen minutes.  I think I just feel an uneasiness in being still for long periods of time.  My normal speed is lightning, and I never single-task, so when I find myself with the actual time to do nothing… it feels wrong.  So then I just create things to do.  I’m sick, I know.  But, like I said… Awareness is the first step.  Right?

So, on this particular day, I was, per usual, racing to beat the clock and get things done before it was time to pick up my kids from school.  And I found myself with about 7 minutes to get dinner going.  I knew I was making beef stew and I knew we’d be gone awhile, because we were taking the kids for ice cream… the rest sort of happened as it did.  And this recipe came out really, really well.  Surprisingly well, considering the circumstances.  I even managed to get a picture of it when we got back, which I’m still trying to recall doing.

This a savory, hearty, soothing and comforting beef and root vegetable stew with a lovely backbone of sweet and tang from brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.  I love the veggie combo that I used… carrots, parsnips and turnips… the carrots are sweet, and the parsnips have a sweet bite to them, then the turnips are just plain sassy.  So fun.  And it was so easy to make!  The hardest part was peeling the veggies, really.  I didn’t even have the proper time to caramelize the meat and the vegetables (you will as I instruct below), but it still came out really, really well.  If you’re a crock pot person, this would be a good one to use for that!

So, yeah.  Ok.  Maybe I need to slow down more, I get that.  And let it be known that I actually am having an intentionally slow day today… ish.  And it’s been awesome.  I happily admit that right now.  We all could use more balance in our lives, and I preach that far more than I practice it.  I’m aware of that.  And awareness is the first step… right?  Plus, I’ve found that with a little help from a good friend to catch you if you happen lose that balance…?

Well, now.

Anything is possible.

Happy Sunday, babes.  I hope yours is a slow one.

BROWN SUGAR – BALSAMIC

BEEF AND ROOT VEGETABLE STEW

serves about 8

Season…

  • 2 lbs ‘lean beef stew meat’ OR 2 1/2 lbs of chuck roast, trimmed and cubed 

heavily with…

  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a wide bottomed stock pot, or dutch oven, with a little light olive oil or canola oil (unless you have a trustworthy non-stick pot) sear the beef (in batches, so you get good caramelization on each side of piece and you’re not boiling the meat by crowding the pot).  Once each batch is seared, remove and set aside on a plate while you continue.

Once all the beef has been seared on all sides, add in the following vegetables…

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 small turnips, same same
  • 2 large parsnips, same same
  • 1 large white/yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Season with more kosher salt.

Depending on the size of your pot, you probably need to do this in batches as well.

Once you see some caramelization on all the veggies, add back in your seared beef (and any juices that accumulated on the plate).

Pour in…

  • about 1 cup dry, red wine

Stir from the bottom with a wooden spoon to scrape up the yummy flavor bits stuck to the pan.

Then add in…

  • about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 quart (4 cups) beef stock

Add…

  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (this is an optional preference, and all depending on the salinity of your stock)
  • 2 heaping TB light brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large rosemary sprig

Bring to a boil.  Cover. Reduce to a simmer.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours.  Or, you can keep it at 250 for most of the afternoon.

Everything should be tender now.  Remove from oven and place on the stove top, remove the the lid and boil to reduce the liquid a bit for about 30 minutes.  Keep a close eye on it… depending on the size of the pot, that reducing time will vary.

Taste the liquid and re-season if necessary.

Serve garnished with fresh parsley, lemon zest and flaky sea salt.

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