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Back to Work Stew

Labor Day has come and gone, and now we have to get back to work, school, and the many other activities that stuff our days. If your early September schedule is hectic, why not try to minimize the kitchen hassles and satisfy the hungry hordes (or at least your family) with something that pretty much cooks itself? How about a savory beef stew? You can let the stew simmer on the stove for 2-3 hours or just pop everything into the slow cooker and let the stew do its thing while you're at work. Either way, you'll have a wonderful fall dinner. This version of beef stew is a little different from the usual. It includes the standard onions, carrots, and celery, but it also is flavored with earthy cumin, garlic, and red wine. Serve the stew over noodles, polenta, mashed potatoes, or rice to catch all the rich juices. A simple mixed salad and a green vegetable or hot bread would round out the meal well.

Savory Stew

Savory Stew -- Serves 4

1 tablespoon of canola oil

1-1 1/2 pounds of beef chuck, cubed (or beef stew meat)

1/4 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1 medium onion chopped

8 ounces of carrots sliced (2-4 carrots)

2 celery stalks chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic powder (or granulated garlic)

1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juice

1/2 cup of red wine (the cheap stuff is fine)

1/2 cup of beef broth

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

In a large skillet, heat the oil until it's hot. Shake the cubed beef with the flour in a plastic bag and add the beef (and any left over flour in the bag) to the skillet. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and cumin. Let the beef brown for 5-10 minutes, flipping the cubes midway through after one side has browned. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and let them cook with the beef for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and oregano. Stir in the tomatoes, red wine, beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce and bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the stew, and let the stew simmer for 2-3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. You may need to add a little more liquid if your lid isn't tight fitting. Alternatively, you can brown the floured beef and place it in a slow cooker with all the other ingredients. Stir the stew, cover the slow cooker and cook the stew on low for 6-8 hours or until the beef is fork tender. Sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley on the stew before you serve it, if you'd like.

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