You know what food I love on a cold winter weekend? A hearty beef stew. You know what else I love? Thick, salty oven fries that are crispy on the outside and perfect on the inside. In a flash of brilliance, I pulled the two of them together into my new favourite winter-time dinner: stew-tine! (Stou-tine? Probably better than pou-stew, at least!)
Here’s my “recipe,” such as it is. You’ll need:
500g of stewing beef
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 small cooking onion
several garlic cloves
1 cup red wine (optional)
2 cups stock
2 celery stalks
handful of mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas
3 – 4 large baking potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika (optional)
1 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup very cold water
Over medium high heat, add canola/veg oil to a dutch oven or stew pot. While the pot and oil heat, cut the stewing beef into small pieces, maybe 2 cm cubes. Toss the the beef in the flour to coat liberally. Brown the beef in the oil. Make sure it browns very well on at least one side – it’s hard for me to be patient and not touch it while it browns!
While the beef is browning, dice the onions and garlic cloves. When the beef is well browned, add the onions and garlic and saute lightly. If the pan is dry, add a touch of the red wine or a bit more oil. Brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan is good!
Chop the carrots, celery, turnip and mushrooms into pieces of similar size to the beef. When the onions are translucent, add the carrots, celery, turnip and mushrooms to the pot with the red wine and/or stock and add enough water to cover the works. Bring to a high boil and use a wooden or plastic spoon to scrape up the browned bits of flour off the bottom of the pot. Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper, reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Ideally, simmer the stew for an hour or so before you start the fries. Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Wash the potatoes but don’t peel them, and cut them into thick slices. I cut them into quarters length and width-wise, then cut each quarter into slices about 1 cm thick. I like to have some skin on each piece. Soak the potato slices for a few minutes, up to 30 mins, in cold water. Drain and dry, and then toss the potato slices with olive oil, salt and optional paprika.
Line a baking sheet (we usually need two for four potato’s worth) with parchment paper and place the potato slices on the parchment paper. Bake for approx 25 mins, until they are toasty brown on the down side. Flip and bake another 10 to 15 mins to taste.
While the oven fries are finishing, if you want to thicken the stew gravy, turn the heat back up and bring the stew back to a boil. Mix the corn starch into the cold water and add gradually to the stew. Finally, just before you serve, add the frozen peas and stir.
Place a serving of fries on each plate, and ladle the stew on top. If you’re not minding your carbs, serve with extra bread for sopping up the gravy!
The only thing I didn’t love about this was the texture of the gravy when I used corn starch as a thickener. Any recommendations to thicken a stew using options other than corn starch? The flour at the beginning certainly starts the job, but I think when you serve it as stew-tine, you want that extra thickness!
Mad props to Chef Michael Smith for the basics of the oven fries, from his Family Meals cookbook, and for teaching me the basics so I’m now comfortable freestyling in the kitchen!
My dirty little secret is that I love this with ketchup. There is something sublime about really good fries and gravy with ketchup, and having the beef and veg along for the ride justifies it as more than just a sometimes treat!