Saturday, December 12, 2009

Beef and squash stew

This is a great beef stew to have for Rosh Hashanah, when everything is to be round and/or sweet to start off the new year right. Shallots, thyme, butternut squash, and cranberries all help to make this a savory but slightly sweet stew. We like it anytime during the fall and winter. So I thought I’d make it tonight to celebrate the first full day of Hanukkah, plus my sweetheart's birthday!

Cooked in a crock pot, you’ve got a couple of alternatives for preparation: stew the squash for a long time and it will break down like tzimmes, making the broth thick and rich (well, at least it seems rich, but there’s no added fat!). Stew it for a shorter time and the squash chunks will hold their shape. It really is up to you…we like it both ways.

Beef and Squash Stew

3 t canola oil
2 – 3 shallots, chopped

1 – 2 lb stew beef, cubed small
1 T flour
1 t thyme
1 t sage
Salt and pepper

2 14 oz cans of beef broth (or homemade)
4 – 5 c butternut squash, peeled and cubed (I buy it frozen in bags this way!)
1/2 c cranberries (slightly sweetened are fine)

Saute the shallots slightly in a heavy skillet and set them aside. Brown the beef, adding the flour and spices after the pink is all gone. Saute for an additional minute. Add a cup or so of broth, and scrape all the browned bits from the pan. Pour it all, plus the shallots, into the crock pot.

Plan to let the meat cook on low for at least four hours; more is fine. Add the cranberries. If you would like the squash really soft and somewhat incorporated into the broth, add it now. Otherwise, add it about 30 minutes before serving.

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