It has been cold and sort of drizzly. That means soup or stew weather to me. I found this recipe in the Best of Holiday Shopping from the Roanoke Times. I changed a few minor things. It was kind of sweet, but then there are a lot of sweet ingredients. It was good and even better served with a bit of fresh bread or rolls.
Autumn Beef and Cider Stew
1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat
4 slices bacon, precooked. If using uncooked, 2 slices
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (10 1/2 ounces condensed French onion soup I used Campbell's
1 cup apple cider
1 to 1 1/2 pounds sweet potato, about 3 cups diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Cook the bacon in a stock pot on medium. We pretty much always buy the pre-cooked bacon. It doesn't make a lot of grease, which is one reason we really like it. So I used 4 pieces in order to get enough bacon grease to cook the stew meat. Take a very clean pair of scissors and cut up the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.
Remove the bacon slices and place them on a paper towel to drain. Trim the yucky parts off the stew meat and cook them in two batches in the bacon grease. Place the bacon and cooked meat into the stock pot and season with S&P.
Add the condensed onion soup and the cup of apple cider to the stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 3/4 hours.
After about 1 1/2 hours start peeling the sweet potatoes. We used a medium large sweet potato. It is hard to get just the right size hunk of sweet potato. It should be about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of diced sweet potato.
Add the diced sweet potatoes and the dried cranberries to the stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 20 to 30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes to see if the meat and the sweet potatoes are tender. If they, are you're done. If not, cook for another 10 minutes.
The recipe called for unsweetened cranberries. I couldn't find any, so I used Craisins. The sweet potatoes, cider and sweetened cranberries all contributed to a slightly sweet stew. It was also a little thin, so I decided to thicken it a bit. The next bit is optional, but it thickened the stew nicely and so I recommend it.
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Put the water in a glass and add the cornstarch. Stir with a fork until mixed and add to the stew. Cook until it starts to thicken and enjoy your dinner.
We served it with some Potato Rosemary Bread. And I had some hard cider from Angry Orchard, my most recent, favorite, adult beverage.
I returned from an errand in the kitchen and noticed two uninvited guests observing Lee's every bite.
Here is where I mention that some people, after the children have grown and moved away, develop an unnatural fondness for, and indulgence with, their pets. We understand we are completely nuts when we allow them to sit and observe our meals. And I must stress that they are not allowed on the table. Just allowed to sit on the bench and observe the table.
The dog, however, must remain on the floor. We're not crazy, after all....