I think it goes without saying that being a mom can be really exhausting. Don’t worry, this is not one of those ridiculous rants that people post on Facebook about how “I am a full time nurse, a cook, a launderer…”, gosh, I hate those things. I will not encourage you to “Like” this post if you are an exhausted mom. I will, however, encourage you to pull yourself away from the Halloween candy you bought early (Snickers!) and catching up on episodes of Parenthood, and go to the store to get the ingredients to make this satisfying stew. This stew helped me, and I can’t deny that I am pretty darn tired.
I am just coming out of the newborn haze, Lulu has passed the four month mark, and although we’re still working out the quirks, we are finding our rhythm. One thing I tend to do, and perhaps you do too, is to output too much and not take enough in. I do this with energy and love, and often with food too. I make food for my kids, my husband, my neighbors… but sometimes I forget to take care of myself. Sometimes I even forget to eat, which I know is totally ridiculous/dumb/absurd.
I had this moment the other day when I was pumping breast milk and I could swear to you that the breast pump was saying, “de–plete … de–plete … de–plete …” as it expressed milk (drained life-source from my body). That’s when I knew that I was probably in need of some real, honest to goodness, sustenance. And probably something high in iron too. I am helplessly anemic, and always have been. Usually, I forget about it until inanimate objects (such as a breast pump) start to threaten me, or I get lightheaded… both of which have been happening lately. I actually tend to shy away from red meat but then there are times when I crave a really great burger, a perfectly seared steak, or a rich and nourishing beef stew. I’d never had a beef stew that I liked until I made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon a few years ago. I entered into it skeptically and was shocked by how wonderful it was.
After my breast pump made me want to cry, I had Kyle pull some organic, locally raised stew meat from the freezer and I looked around the house for ingredients to make a beef stew. I quite honestly didn’t have the energy to drive to the store to get the ingredients for Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon, her stew takes many steps and many hours. I wanted similar flavor without doing all the work. We had enough on hand so I set to work. The result of a few basic ingredients, prepared thoughtfully, resulted in a beef stew that really helped boost my energy. We ate it together as a family while the rain whipped against the windows… we may have even been wearing our pajamas at the dinner table.
Whether you’re depleted or not, this stew is really satisfying, and fortifying. It certainly helped me feel a little less afraid of my breastpump and my alarm clock. …did you see that? I just lied to you. I don’t have an alarm clock. Kyle does and I hate it. My alarm clocks are cute, fuzzy pajama’d little pips. Although I sometimes fear the hour at which they wake up, those girls don’t scare me one bit.
2 pounds stew beef
1 quart beef broth
several small cippolini onions, peeled and roughly quartered or 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced into discs
a few sprigs fresh rosemary
a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
vegetable or canola oil
Italian parley, roughly chopped
Using paper towels, thoroughly dry each piece of stew meat and set aside. When all the meat is dried, sprinkle it with a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat two tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Working in batches, brown the meat. Give them space and turn them to make sure all the sides are browned nicely. Remove from the pot and set aside. Repeat with the remaining meat.
Pour a couple tablespoons of beef broth into the pot and gently scrape up the all the brown bits (the fond) from the bottom of the pot. Pour this over the browned meat.
Preheat your oven to 325º.
Heat another tablespoon of oil in your pot, over medium-high heat, before adding the onions along with the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Sauté the onions until they are softened and on the verge of browning, 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a separate frying pan until it starts to brown a bit around the edges, toss in the carrots and sauté until they are bright and vibrant in color, 3-5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the carrots, garlic, and butter to the onions and stir to combine.
Return the meat and drippings to the pot, toss with the vegetables. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon flour, stir it in thoroughly, and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding in 2 cups red wine, the rest of your beef broth, the bay leaf, and tomato paste. Stir well. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours. Check at the 2 1/2 hour mark to make sure you have enough liquid… you want the broth to be nice and thick, gravy-like enough to really coat a spoon. If you’re happy with it, pull it out, or leave it for another half hour. If it’s still “soupy” you can remove the meat, onions, etc. and reduce the liquid on the stovetop for a few minutes.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve alongside some crusty french bread or garlic bread. We had some freshly plucked French Breakfast radishes so I sliced them and sprinkled them over the garlic bread, which was a very good decision.