Thursday, October 20, 2011

Recipes: Beef and Squash Stew with Beer and Mustard

I haven’t posted a lot of recipes or book reviews recently – OK, until about a week ago I hadn’t posted anything much at all. Sooner or later I’ll get around to a double review of Jan Wong’s Red China Blues and Jan Wong’s China.  For now, recipes!

I recently made a dish, based off of thisrecipe, for my in-laws on a chilly Maine day, and it came out extremely well (if quite different from the original). I thought I’d post it here because it can definitely be made in Taiwan, and is perfect for those cold, damp, “oh yeah no central heating in a cement building” Taipei winter days.

Beef and Squash Stew with Beer and Mustard


4-5 cups cubed butternut squash – you can also use pumpkin, other kinds of squash, or if you are willing to alter the recipe even more, lentils

1 normal size package of cubed stew beef (I avoid chuck personally)

a packet of frozen peas (or fresh peas, whatever)

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2-3 large potatoes, peeled (or not!) and cut into chunks

1 red bell pepper, center removed – slice and cut slices in half

1 tart apple, peeled and cut into chunks

Optional add ins: parsnips, celery, green beans, cauliflower, chopped spinach etc..

Handful of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Handful of chopped dill weed

Lemon juice (a few squirts to taste)

Salt, pepper to taste

Bay leaves (1-2, optional)

A few coins of ginger or shakes of powdered ginger

2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped

2 bottles of dark beer

1 jar of whatever mustard you like – but avoid the bright yellow French’s stuff – in this recipe you can really taste the difference with expensive mustard

2 soft breadsticks (not the hard kind but the kind you can slice and cut) – you could also use several cups of croutons

Olive oil, water, optional paprika

A few chunks of butter

Large casserole, crock pot or pot, pastry brush


If baking, preheat oven to 350.  Recipe can be baked, crock-potted or cooked on the stove

Rub down chunks of stew beef with salt, pepper and paprika if desired, sauté in olive oil on medium until they start to brown. About halfway through the browning process add the garlic to nicely roast it. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine all chopped/chunked vegetables and apple in crock pot, large deep pot or large casserole.  Leave out the red peppers and peas or anything that cooks relatively quickly.

Add 1 tablespoon mustard, other spices/herbs including lemon juice. Add beef when cool, including oil/drippings.

Melt butter and add to mixture. Mix everything together well.

Pour beer into mixture – it shouldn’t come quite to the top but should come near the top.

Bake on 350 for about 1.5 hours – or you could bake it longer at 320. Every 15-20 minutes, use a wooden spoon to stir up the mixture to make sure the stuff on top doesn’t dry out and burn.

Add bell pepper and peas. By now, the butternut squash and apple should have dissolved into the beer and formed a soupy mixture.  Add sifted flour and mix in until suitably thickened. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Slice breadsticks down the center to reduce thickness. Use pastry brush to coat completely in mustard, or cover croutons in mustard if you are using those.

Press breadsticks into top of stew about halfway, so they form a top “crust”, or cover in croutons. Return to stove and bake for 15 more minutes, reducing heat to 320 if baking at 350. If cooking on stove or crockpot, take it out, pour into casserole, stick in breadsticks and warm in stove on 350 for 15 minutes. You can also toast the mustard-covered breadsticks and add them to the serving dish if you don’t wish to bake.

Serve in soup bowls, or over rice on plates. Each guest gets a whole or half breadstick – serves about 8, or 4 with leftovers.

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