I found this recipe a few weeks ago (and for the life of me I can't remember where!), and it sounded like something Mike would enjoy. I've been trying to spend as little as possible on groceries, and that often means no beef, so when a cheap cut of beef went on sale this week, I bought some to give this recipe a try. For ten bucks, I made this meal and have three meals worth of beef in the freezer - two packages of thin-sliced beef that can be made into fajitas or stir-fry and another package of cubed beef for either barbeque in the crock pot or more stew. Not bad. The challenge for me is to make beef stretch - when I think beef, I think burgers and steaks! But back to the stew.
I liked this recipe because it talks about layering flavors, something I never realized could contribute so much to the flavor of the dish. I didn't realize that I needed to use the same pan to cook the beef and let it stew in the oven, so I deglazed the frying pan with some white wine and scraped all that goodness into the dutch oven below. Next time I'll just use the dutch oven for everything.
This cast iron dutch oven belonged to Mike's grandmother, "Oma," who is a German immigrant and one of the sweetest ladies I've ever known. She's too frail to lift heavy cast iron and doesn't cook much anymore, but I've heard Mike talk about the delicous German foods she used to make. I have a few of her recipes written down for posterity, but she's a "little of this and that" kind of cook, plus most of her recipes call for things like "one pound of lard" and "fry in bacon grease until crispy." But I know someday I'll be glad I have them.
The beef part of this meal was good, but unfortunately, it was the only good part. I cooked some potatoes in the oven along with the beef to make mashed potatoes, and they FELT done, but apparently they were not. Once I started mashing them I discovered this, and after nuking them in the microwave, the best I could do was some very lumpy mashed potatoes. The broccoli was even worse - it was one of those new low-fat cheesy broccoli dishes by Green Giant, and it was so darn salty, I couldn't finish it. At least I'll always have the beef :)