What is it about Sun-Dried Tomatoes that makes them so delicious, so versatile and oh so good? Love them in a salad, or with chicken or in a sauce. Sometimes when I’m cooking, I will munch on some Sun-Dried Tomatoes the way other people enjoy fruit leather.
The official start of the Autumn Season is nearly here. Fall is less than a week away. I love this time of year best of all when it comes to everyday meals. While Christmas is great for the fancy foods and Victorian entertaining, Autumn brings us big bowls of wonderful soups and delicious, hearty stews.
Hubby is a big fan of Beef Stew. It has taken me a while to warm up to stews. The biggest reason is that stew meat tends to be tough if not “stewed” long enough and my mother’s stew had great big chunks of carrots. As a kid, I liked raw carrots straight from the garden just fine, but was not a fan of cooked carrots. Over the years, I have learned to love carrots cooked as much as I do raw.
One of the things that I like about a French Beef Stew over an American Beef Stew is that the French Stew tends to be served over Mashed Potatoes. Any excuse for mashed potatoes is good in my book.
Provencal Beef Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
2 medium Carrots, shredded
4 Celery Ribs, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
1 jar (7 oz) Julienned Sun-Dried Tomatoes packed in oil
1 cup Beef Broth
1 can (6 oz) plain Tomato Paste
1/3 cup Honey
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Garlic Cloves
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2-1/2 lbs Stew Meat
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
To Make the Stew
Shred the carrots and place into the bowl of a 4-quart slow cooker.
Chop the celery ribs, add to the carrots. Peel and chop the onion, add to the carrots. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the carrot mixture. Stir in broth, tomato paste, honey and balsamic vinegar.
Peel and press garlic over the top of everything in the cooker. Season mixture with thyme, onion powder and white pepper. Stir to mix.
Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet.
In a zip-lock bag or brown paper bag, mix flour with salt and black pepper. Shake to blend. Add stew meat in batches to coat, then brown the meat in the skillet. Remove stew meat with a slotted spoon and place in the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours or until beef is very tender.
6 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
Salt to taste
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped for garnish
4 tablespoons Butter for mashing
1/4 cup Milk for mashing
To Make Potatoes and Serve
During the last 45 minutes of cooking the stew, make the mashed potatoes.
Peel potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes and place is a pot with just enough water to cover potatoes. Season the water with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and cook for about 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, chop the parsley and set aside.
Drain potatoes well. Return to the pot to dry over low heat.
Meanwhile, melt butter with a little milk to thin. Pour warmed butter over the potatoes, mash well. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To serve, spread mashed potatoes into a bowl. Top with stew. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.