Introduction: Grandma's Beef Stew

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This stew is simple, delicious and incredibly versatile. It also comes with a bit of lore. After the second World War, my grandparents decided to leave their holler behind and move to the city, so that my grandfather could work at the new Ford assembly plant opening there. All was well, until grandpa started coming home and raving about the stew that was served at work. My grandma, who was fiercely proud of her culinary prowess and was not about to be outdone by cafeteria food, began experimenting with all manner of stews and soups to see if she could top the plant's, but to no avail. Eventually deciding that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, she set about getting the recipe, but found that the cook was reluctant to share it. Accounts vary, but the general consensus in the family is that she won it off the woman through an arm-wrestling contest. From that point on, it became a hearty winter staple in my grandparents' home.

Step 1: Fixin's

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When I said this stew was versatile, I meant it. Just about everything can be substituted for something else if you're so inclined, and the recipe is forgiving of experimentation. It can also be made vegetarian style by substituting beans for the meat (or doing away with protein completely, if you'd prefer), and using unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk (though the milk is optional, anyway, so it too can be done away with).

My grandmother was always incredibly vague about this recipe. Conversations about how to make it would go something like, "What cut of beef do you use, grandma?"

"Whatever kind was on sale."

"How much of [insert ingredient name here] do you use?"

"Just the right amount."

So the amounts below are my own somewhat arbitrarily attached quantities. If you were to ask me how much to use of anything (if I weren't trying to nail it down for this Instructable), I would probably give the exact same answers as grandma ;).

Also note: the pictures shown are of the recipe cut in half.

Servings: 6-8

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes (Though this varies. Cook time can be as short as 20 minutes, or as long as all day, if you'd prefer to use a slow cooker. See step labeled "alternative cooking methods" for specifics)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb beef, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 lbs potatoes, cubed
  • 6 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup peas
  • 4 cans (~64 oz) tomato soup
  • Oil to coat pan (or lard, if you're feeling traditional)
  • Optional: 1-2 cups milk, plus milk to cool with

Step 2: Onions and Beef

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In a medium to large-ish, preheated skillet, add a dash of oil and cook onions on medium for a few minutes. Add the beef and cook until just brown.

Step 3: The Veggies

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Add veggies to skillet and cook for about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Throw It All in the Pot

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Pour the tomato soup and milk into the pot and set to medium-low. Dump all the fixin's from the skillet into the stew pot.

Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender

Step 5: Alternative Cooking Methods

If you want to use a slow cooker:

Don't precook anything. Just toss all the ingredients (minus the oil) into your pot and cook all day on medium to low heat

If you're in a hurry:

Start preheating the soup in the pot before dicing the ingredients. Warm two medium-sized skillets. Cook the onions and meat in one skillet and the rest of the veggies in the other. When meat is cooked and potatoes are tender, toss into stew pot. Using this method you can have delicious, stew-y goodness in 20 minutes or less

Step 6: Enjoy!

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Grandma always served this stew piping hot and kept a pitcher of milk out on the table to be used to cool it down--a sinful but delicious indulgence :).

You now have an amazing, hearty stew that freezes well, and will keep you warm and full during the long winter months!

Comments

alh2014 (author)2015-02-20

thanks for the story! that always makes ameal taste better. kindof like the story about the Neiman Marcus cookie story. haha

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Bio: Making is happiness. Most of my free time involves me either being elbows deep in some project or another, or staring off into space planning ... More »
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