Yesterday I made a lovely stew.
I should start with Tuesday, though.
Tuesday I had a lovely time with a group of knitters at Borders. I drove to 'Arborbland' and met Lynnie there, was happy I did. We made a quick sweep through Hillers just before the store closed (in the same shopping center).
The next day, however, I didn't take into account the physical effect of the effort involved and decided to make stew as planned, adding in all the lovely root veggies I'd picked up at Hillers on Tuesday night.
So, I figured the stew would be an all day event, because that's the best way for me to cook and still have enough of me left for the next day, but I should have divided the cooking into two parts and two days after the exertions of Tuesday, ah well, I'll know better next time. Anyway, here's the 'recipe'.
First I cubed the meat. For this time I used 1 part beef to 3 parts venison. You could use any meat you have around, seasoning appropriately. You could also used baked tofu or seitan, or even tempeh. If using baked tofu or tempeh , you can skip the long slow cooking bit in the next part.
I browned the meat in shifts, and when that was done I put all the meat back into the cast iron dutch oven and added enough broth to cover. I left this to simmer-cook a few hours while I prepared the veg. This next part is what makes the stew special.
I prepared the vegetables by peeling or not (as appropriate) cutting them in about 1 inch cubes, giving them a light covering of olive oil, preading them on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan and slooow roasting them (at about 325-350 deg. F.) until they were soft on the inside and starting to brown on the outside corners. I peeled the rutabaga (it comes covered in wax) and the turnips (as the turnips had some poor spots) and the onions, but the parsnips and potatoes I just gave a washing before cubing them. I was going to roast the carrots, but the bag I had in the fridge was past it so I just dumped a few handfuls of frozen carrots into the stew when the time came. If I'd had whole garlic, I would have roasted that too.
By the time the veggies were all roasted ( I roasted two pans at a time, and dumped the veg into a big mixing bowl as they were finished) the meat had cooked through and was almost tender, and the broth was very rich. I dumped in the veg with some seasoning (this time I used a big splash of worcestershire, plenty of diced garlic, a small amount of thyme, a smaller amount of marjoram, a dash of spike, and most importantly, a pinch of dried chipotle pepper.. Not enough pepper to make it spicy, but enough to give a hint of smoke. You could also add a half shot of good scotch for the smokey effect (especially an Islay scotch). I added some beer, but I think it would have been about as good without it, as I didn't have stout. A little stout would have added something.
I then let it cook for about another hour to allow the flavors to meld, then put in some roux I'd made over the holidays from the duck drippings. If you don't happen to have any roux around, you can thicken it with your prefered method, or not at all. We like a very thick stew, so I always thicken ours.
I wound up with enough stew for a meal yesterday, 6 meals in the freezer for Oscar, and enough for a few more meals in the fridge.
The roasted rutabaga was absolutely delicious on its own, and I'll be making it again just as a side dish. Lynnie told me how good it was and I was eager to try it.. she was right, it was fabulantastic.
I think the stew would work just fine as a hearty vegetarian dish, using whatever protein substance you prefer and adjusting the cooking method to take best advantage of your choice. The stew is even better the next day, after it's had time to 'nuzzle itself' (as Oscar says :-} ).