My Dad's Beef Stew

Turnips are one of those funny vegetables: Many people object to the idea of them, but when you braise them slowly in a stew, particularly a peppery beef-based broth, they take on levels of umami flavor that even the pickiest of vegetable eaters can’t resist. This stew just screams snowy winter afternoon and pairs nicely with a deep Cabernet—two things I associate with my father who cooks this stew for football Sunday up in New Hampshire. You can also fancy it up and add a fresh richness with a dollop of herb butter preserved from when herbs are in peak season.

Serves 8 (or 4 with leftovers)

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)

  • 2 pounds stew beef, cut into bite sized chunks

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • ¼ cup red wine (optional)

  • 1 quart beef stock, store bought or homemade

  • 2 medium turnips (approximately 2 pounds), cut into a large dice

  • ½–2 cups water

  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into a medium dice

  • 6 medium carrots, roll cut or cut into ¼-inch rounds or half moons for really large carrots

  • 4 ribs celery, cut into ½-inch slices

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • Herb butter for serving

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. Add the beef pieces and toss with the flour mixture.

  2. In a dutch oven or large stock pot, heat the oil over high heat.

  3. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the beef and brown it on all sides, approximately 8 minutes, or until a crust forms. Remove from the pan and set aside. In the remaining fat, sauté the onion with a few pinches of salt until softened.

  4. Add the red wine, scraping up brown bits as you whisk it in. Add the stock, slowly whisking in a half-cup at a time, and letting it bubble and thicken, before adding more. Bring to a simmer.

  5. Return the beef to the pot. Add the turnips and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the water half a cup at a time, as needed to reach your desired consistency.

  6. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and a few pinches of salt, and simmer, partially covered, for 90 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the stew thickens slightly. If the stew is still thin, you can remove 6 to 8 potato pieces, mash them with a fork, and whisk them into ½ cup of stew liquid. Then return the liquid to the pot.

  7. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes longer, until vegetables and stew reach your desired consistency.

  8. Portion into bowls and serve with a dollop of herb butter, if desired.

Variations:

  • use diced celery root (celeriac) in addition to or in place of the turnips or celery

  • use dried rosemary along with the thyme or add rosemary and/or thyme sprigs to the cooking liquid

  • swap the balsamic vinegar for apple cider vinegar

To Freeze: Cool stew thoroughly. Consider what size portions you might want to have and use appropriately sized containers or freezer bags to store stew in (I like mine in 2-cup portions). If using bags, place in freezer flat and let harden for 2 hours before placing bag upright for storage.

To Reheat: Defrost the stew in its bag or container in the refrigerator for about 6 to 8 hours (some remaining ice chunks are okay). Transfer the stew to a soup pot. Heat covered, over medium heat, breaking up ice as needed. Add beef broth to thin if needed while reheating.