Before I ramble on about tarragon and pumpkin (which is exactly why you’re here, I’m sure of it), I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my big bro, animator Matt Kummer, and the rest of the Disney team for a little movie I like to call the best animated picture of the year. My brother’s not one to brag, which is exactly why I’ll do the boasting for him. Publicly. And on a blog post about stew which, for the record, has absolutely nothing to do with animation.
Wreck-It Ralph was…epic. No, not epic, as this is perhaps the most overused word by anyone under the age of 25. But it was quite amazing. The months of hard-work that were poured into this film are so evident in the strategic and mind-blowing creativity that rocks every second of it; from a Mentos and Coke volcano, to the hysterical Konami code reference, the clever details never ceased. I can’t wait to see it again and discover the other references and artistic elements I may have missed the first time through. Congrats, Disney. Ralph totally wrecked it. And if you haven’t yet, you should go see it. right. now.
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Now on with the chow.
This is the best autumn stew recipe I have tried yet. Granted, I’m not a stew queen and I don’t cook stew on a daily, or even a monthly basis, but I do know a good stew when I taste it. And this one is a real keeper. The tender beef and the seasonal pumpkin alone are enough to make it crock-pot worthy, but the additional spices seem to push it over the edge. Just last week twelve strangers showed up at my house when the righetous smell of tarragon and cinnamon flooded our kitchen. I had to fight them off with a wooden spoon.
And my stories are always true.
The preparation for this beef-based beaut takes a bit of time — chopped vegetables, peeled pumpkin, and browned beef — but it’s worth the prep and it’s downright tasty. And once it’s in the crock-pot, you have nearly 3 hands-free hours to create a massive Pinterest-thumbnail collage on your desktop. Or, if we’re honest, 3 hours to catch up on what is now last month’s to-do list. Alas, I can guarantee that this meal is just one less thing Felix will be needing to fix. So game on!
Slow-Cook Beef & Pumpkin Stew
(Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma – Serves 6)
3 lb. beef bottom round, trimmed of fat, cut into 1″ chunks
Salt, to taste, plus 1/4 tsp.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup red wine
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup beef stock
1 lb. pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4″ chunks
Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Brown beef 4 minutes on each side and transfer to plate.
Discard grease from pan. Add onion, thyme and bay leaves to pan; saute 4-6 minutes. Add garlic and cinnamon stick; cook 1 minute. Add to slow cooker.
To slow cooker, add wine, vinegar, carrots, tomatoes, stock and beef. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
Scatter pumpkin over beef. Cover; cook until tender, 1-2 hours more. Discard thyme, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. I garnished mine with some lettuce, but you can garnish with green onions or, as Williams-Sonoma suggests, chopped fresh mint. Enjoy these autumn flavors!