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  • Mary Kay

Sweetheart Beef Stew for Two

"14 Days of Angels Baking Valentine Memories!"

Surprise your Sweetie with this delicious Sweetheart Beef Stew for Two on a cold wintry Valentine’s Day – sweetened with Sweet Vermouth. And, why not enjoy a Brandy Manhattan on the side with some of that leftover Vermouth?

This recipe for 2 or four is a hearty sweetheart stew that’s chocked full of veggies, stew meat, a cup of tomato sauce and a half cup of Sweet Vermouth. That SW adds not too much sweetness. This is actually a stew recipe I made years ago that I remade into a stew that’s just a little sweeter than the recipe I made with a dark beer. (That recipe is really good, too. I’ll share that one on my blog at a later date.) We always have Sweet Vermouth in our pantry just in case we get thirsty for a Brandy Manhattan, so this is a version that’s easy for me.

What’s nice about this recipe is that I make it entirely in one pot – my Dutch oven. That eliminates the dirtying of other pans, making for much less clean up. I like that!

Start with flouring and searing the stew meat. I like to get a nice sirloin steak or nicely marbled chuck roast and cut it up into bite-sized 1-2” cubes. So many times, I’ve purchased some meat called stew meat only to find it to be full of gristle and way too much fat. So, I stick with a better cut of meat that’s nicely marbled with just the right amount of fat to give it some good flavor. After searing the meat, deglaze the pan with the Sweet Vermouth, then toss in the cleaned veggies and sauté for a few minutes until the onion gets translucent.

Add my Mom’s Homemade Beefy Onion Soup mix, water, tomato sauce and other seasonings. A key to this recipe being low in sodium is because I do not use the heavily salt

laden bouillon mixes or cubes. To control the amount of salt in the dish, I make my own homemade version of my Mother’s recipe. (Don’t tell anyone, but it’s heart-healthy!) But, if you prefer the envelopes or cubes of high sodium bullion, by all means go ahead.

Let it all bake together in the Dutch oven for 3 hours and you’ll enjoy the delicious stew aroma all afternoon. It’ll be ready in time for dinner with garlic toast for dipping and a cheesecake dessert.

This recipe serves two sweethearts, with enough left over for another double meal.

Prep your medium stock pot or Dutch oven:

- I bake this in my 3-quart Dutch oven the oven set for 300F degrees. If you’d rather use a slow cooker, to ahead. But you’ll need to at least double the time frame for cooking it. Plus, you’ll still need a different pan for searing the meat if you use a slow cooker. Slow cookers just don’t sear meat very well.

- Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the bottom of the pan and heat over medium heat on the stovetop. When you sprinkle a little water in the pan, and the water dances around in the pan, it’s hot enough for you to add the meat for searing.

Assemble your Ingredients:

1 – 1 ½ # Sirloin or Chuck Roast, cut in 1-2” cubes

3 T Flour for coating meat

1 t Garlic powder

1 t Onion powder

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

1 -2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ C Sweet Vermouth (Do NOT use dry Vermouth)

2 T Flour for thickener

6 Red potatoes, small 2” diameter

4 Carrots, cleaned and cut in chunks

½ LB Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

1 Onion, small, quartered, broken apart

2 Garlic cloves, diced

1 t Italian seasoning (or 1/4 t Basil, ½ t Oregano, ¼ t Thyme)

2 Bay leaves, dry

2 t Homemade Beefy Onion Soup mix (Easy recipe below)

1 Qt Water (or Beef broth if you like that better, but it’s not needed)

8 oz can Tomato sauce (or Bloody Mary Clamato sauce, but it’s salty!)

1 C Peas, frozen or fresh

Assemble the ingredients in the Dutch oven:

- Clean and cut the veggies into 1-2” chunks. Quarter the onion and mushrooms. Dice the garlic. Clean the potatoes, do not peel. I like to leave them whole so they do not break up in the stew. If your potatoes are larger, go ahead and halve or quarter them.

- In a plastic bag, insert the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.

- Add the stew meat. Shake until all the meat is coated with the flour mixture. Save the spiced flour in case you need to thicken the broth later.

- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in the Dutch oven over medium to medium high heat on the stovetop until it sizzles when you sprinkle a few drops of water in it.

- Sear the meat in the Dutch oven, turning it once so most of it is seared. No need to cook through. Pull the meat out and set aside.

- Deglaze the pot with the Sweet Vermouth. Scrape to pull up all those great tasting little tidbits off the bottom of the pan.

- Turn the heat down to medium.

- Add Mom’s Homemade Beefy Onion Soup Mix (see recipe below) and stir.

- Sprinkle the flour over the Sweet Vermouth sauce and whisk so there are no lumps. This will create a nice thickener for the stew.

- Add the meat back in the pot.

- Add all the veggies.

- Add the water and tomato juice.

- Let bake in the oven at 300F degrees for 3 hours.

I check the stew every hour for taste (that’s the advantage of being the chef) and doneness. It’s during these check points when you can add more seasoning or water, etc. If you think you need to thin it out, add a little more water.

- The Sweetheart Beef Stew for Two is done when the meat and veggies are fork tender.

- About 20 minutes before the stew is done, take the peas out of the freezer and let thaw somewhat.

- Pull the Sweetheart Beef Stew for Two out of the oven and add the peas. They will heat up pretty fast.

- Enjoy your Sweetheart Stew with garlic toast points and a glass of wine. Make your Sweetheart Dinner even better with cheesecake for dessert. You’ll find a number of my cheesecake recipes under the Desserts tab in the Menu on my blog.

- Or, serve it up with some of my crisp Italian Parmesan Crackers, coming soon to my blog.

Mom’s Homemade Beefy Onion Soup Mix - It's delicious in soups and dips!

¼ C Dried Onion flakes (or raw onions)

2 T Beef Bouillon granules, LOW-SODIUM

¼ t Onion powder

¼ t Garlic powder

1/8 t Celery seeds (or powder)

1/8 t Paprika

1/8 t Black pepper, ground

- Mix all together and use for a no-salt spice flavoring for soups, stews and dips.

- This one recipe is a substitute for a 1-ounce envelope of dry onion soup mix.

I have a feeling that Mom may have gotten it from one of her girlfriends during one of their coffee klatches. They were always trading recipes and figuring out how to make substitutions in order to save money. They were very creative about making things tastier, yet less expensive. They could stretch a recipe that originally served 4, to serve 12 and still satisfy.

I remember when I was a kid, Mom had a very tight budget for her groceries, and sometimes even the onion soup envelopes in the stores were too expensive to add to the grocery list. She complained about how some of the convenience foods were so expensive. Now most of live off convenience foods, not realizing that most of those foods you can make for much cheaper, more nutrition and they have better taste. So, anyway, she would mix up her own soup spice mixes to add to her scratch soups.

Another convenience food she made from scratch included what we know as hot cocoa. She would mix up sugar, Dutch cocoa powder and a little salt and store it in a glass jar with a tight lid. I remember the label on her big glass jar even had the recipe for a mug of hot cocoa. On a cold day after school or after tobogganing on the hills around our house, I knew that I could mix up a mug of hot cocoa, knowing exactly how much of her mix to add to the steaming hot water. Of course, the water was heated up in a saucepan on the stove – not in a Keurig type electric pot. I'll have to find that recipe in her treasure trove of recipe cards and publish it on my blog.

Back to the Sweetheart Beef Stew for Two: This is a an exceptionally hearty Sweetheart Stew for a cold winter day dinner, or on Valentine’s Day, or even at an indoor or outdoor tailgate party. How about making it ahead of time and reheating it over an outdoor campfire at a deer hunting party. In that case you may want to substitute your own venison.

Wherever you serve your Sweetheart Beef Stew for Two, it’s all about enjoying food with special people and “Baking your own Memories!”

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