• Leigh

Victory Kitchen Dinner: Cheap Beef Stew With Herbs and Cranberries

Okay, so this is an "ugly but good" dish. That means your dinner might not be Instagram-worthy. What it will do is fill you up amazingly well and taste amazingly good. The stew is brown--sorry, but that's pretty much the dominant color--but it has a wonderful, complex taste that belies the idea that it's cheap. But it is--for a beef dinner, that is. The stew dinner also is easy. You just need to load up your slow cooker, and the stew will do its thing all day while you work, watch the kids, study, and/or do whatever you need to do. The recipe uses ingredients that are readily available, if you don't have them on hand. I found the humble stew beef at Aldi, even though most of the meat shelves had been shopped clean of more desirable cuts. Although fresh herbs will give the stew great flavor, so will the dried variety, if you have none of the fresh herbs on hand (I grow them, so this recipe is, in part, a good way to use the herbs I have in my pots). You also can substitute regular onions for pearl onions and leave out the wine (substituting water or broth), if you'd like. No problem. The stew will send incredible aromas through your home and tempt you to eat long before it's ready. When the stew is done, the beef will be fork tender and melting into the gravy. Serve the stew in bowls or atop rice, mashed potatoes, noodles, even grits. Use what you have available, in true "Victory Kitchen" fashion (for more on this, see my previous post on the "Victory Kitchen).



Cheap Beef Stew with Herbs and Cranberries -- Serves 4+


1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds of stew beef, cut into small chunks (an inch or so)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

16 ounce package of frozen pearl onions (or a couple of chopped onions)

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 bay leaves

2-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (2 sprigs 4-5 inches long, or use a teaspoon of dried)

A large handful of fresh thyme (or use a teaspoon of dried thyme)

1/2-1 cup of dried cranberries

1 cup of red wine (leftover is fine, and use the cheap stuff--I use Aldi, Winking Owl--it's

fine)

1 teaspoon of beef reduced sodium "Better Than Bullion, dissolved in 1-2 cups of water

(use more water if you have a larger volume of beef that you're using)

1/2 cup of flour mixed with 1/2 cup of water

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley to garnish (optional)


Spray a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray, set it on high, and spread half of the onions on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the beef and remainder of onions. Sprinkle on the salt, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and dried cranberries. Pour on the wine and "Better Than Bullion" dissolved in the water and cover the slow cooker. Cook the stew on high for an hour or two, then turn down the heat to low and cook for another 5-6 hours (or just cook the stew on low for about 8 hours). When the beef is tender, whisk together the flour and water and add it to the slow cooker, stirring the slurry in to thicken the stew. Let the stew cook another 5-10 minutes, check the seasonings and add salt and pepper, if you'd like. Fish out the bay leaves, hard parts of the rosemary sprigs, and stringy parts of the thyme sprigs. Sprinkle on the parsley, if you're using it, and serve the stew in bowls or atop the carbohydrate of your choice.


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