Autumn Cranberry Beef (Lamb) Stew

This is my 400th post!!  Many thanks to everyone for sticking with me. I know my posts have been pretty sporadic for the last few months.  (A girl’s gotta work and this girl has been working a ton)!  I’m hoping to be a little more consistent over the next month or so. Partly I miss writing about food and partly I miss cooking and partly I miss being at home enough to feel in control of what I eat. 

Cranberry Beef Stew

It’s a misty, cool December evening and stew seemed like a pretty good idea.  I’m also still trying to eat through the freezer stores and this was a help in that regard.  Of course I made a few adjustments.  The recipe calls for 3 pounds of beef.  I didn’t have 3 pounds of beef that I wanted to use in stew and three pounds of meat seemed excessive.  I used one pound of beef, one pound of lamb and lots of baby bella mushrooms.  That way I didn’t lose any bulk, but I did cut a little fat.  I added some carrots.  After reading the reviews, I halved the pearl onions.  I used homemade cranberry sauce and some extra salt.  All good. 

This is a stew so it’s not hard, it just takes a long time.  I did mine on the stove top, but you could do it in a slow cooker too if you wanted to put it on in the morning and leave it all day.  You add the slurry (flour and water mix) at the end to thicken it so if you do it in a CrockPot just transfer it to a pot at the end and bring it to a simmer before you add the slurry.  It thickens up beautifully.  Honestly it’s the mixture of flavors that really makes this.  The beef and the lamb go nicely together.  The cranberry sauce adds a wonderful sweetness.  A little extra earthy from the extra mushrooms.  A little bitterness from the pearl onions.  Some extra salt for balance.  Yum.

The recipe calls for you to serve this over noodles.  The comments recommend serving it over mashed potatoes.  It’s stew so I just ate it out of a bowl.  That worked pretty well.  There’s just no need to add the extra carbs and calories.  Feel free to serve it with a little bread if you need something extra.  And maybe a little salad.  I intended to have a salad, but there have been lots of visitors tonight so I just didn’t get around to making a salad.  No matter.  It’s not pretty, but this stew is just the right thing for a cold and rainy night. Or if you’re lucky enough to have snow dish up a bowl and watch the pretty snow while you eat.

Good?  Quite good.
Easy? Yep, the pot does all the work.
Good for company? Probably good football watching food.
Special shopping? Nope. But if you buy the cranberry sauce just remember to get whole berry sauce.

Autumn Cranberry Beef (Lamb) Stew

Ingredients

1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound beef stew meat cut into 2-inch cubes
1 pound lamb stew meat cut into 2-inch cubes
Olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 (12-ounce) Guinness Stout
1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 (10-ounce) packages baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

Preparation

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle over beef. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef and lamb to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add chopped onion, broth, bay leaves, and stout; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine 1/4 cup water and flour in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and cranberry sauce to pan. Cook 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

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