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Spring stew & sunny day blessings.

I sat down and wrote up this post a little over two weeks ago. All I wanted was some belly warming food because of the chilly Spring. I didn’t realize, just two weeks later, I would want comfort food for a decidedly different reason. On a sunny April day – Patriot’s Day here in Massachusetts – two bombs exploded at a marathon, some 15 miles north of my workplace. Thankfully, I wasn’t affected, nor was anyone I know. But almost 200 were. It’s still a bit jarring to have a terrorist attack so close to home. Then the explosion happened in West, Texas. Such a week of tragedy.

I’m not going to give a long winded response of how things like this put things into perspective, or anything like that. I just am thankful that my loved ones, friends and I are still able to move about our lives, blessed with more sunny days.

So, I’m still going to share this post. What is below is what I originally wrote (pics later…) I hope everyone can be blessed with sunny days and good food.

The calendar says Spring, but the weather can’t decide. I usually don’t mind, but I really want some warm days that allow me to drive with the windows down. I want to sit on the balcony and sip coffee. Or a beer. Ah, to dream…

But no. The days have been a bit chilly still, or wicked breezy (like today). The night lows are still tickling the upper 20s and low 30s. Days like this call for hearty, cold weather food. Spaghetti with meat sauce is often a go-to dish. But I want stew. I’ve been seeing recipes all winter for lovely stews, but I never got around to making any.

I finally said “to heck with it” and bought the stew meat. Most stew ingredients I usually have on hand-carrots, onions, flavorings. Then I went looking for inspiration. Sadly, I came across a recipe at FoodNetwork.com that was perfect. It was simple. I only changed one thing; I used marjoram instead of thyme. And the results were amazing.

Beef Stew with Caramelized Onions and Amber Ale

  • 1/4 cup  vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2  beef stew meat,  cut into 1-inch  chunks
  • 1 1/2 pound  yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon  butter
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 bottle good-quality amber lager or pale ale*
  • 1 cup  beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, brown the meat well on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the meat from scorching. Transfer the browned meat to a plate and repeat until all the meat is browned.

Add the onions and butter to the pot and stir over high heat until the onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle in the sugar. Continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the flour, thyme and carrots and raise the heat to high. Stir for 1 minute, then pour in the lager or ale, letting it come to a vigorous boil. Stir in the broth and tomato paste and return to a boil.

Return the meat and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot, let the liquid come just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender when pierced and the sauce is slightly thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*I used Wachusetts Brewery’s Amber Ale
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/beef-stew-with-caramelized-onions-and-amber-lager-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

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