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Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 3:59 a.m.

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FRONT BURNER: Feel like stew but it's 70 degrees? Go ahead

By Kelly Brant

This article was published February 15, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

cider-braised-beef-and-white-beans

Cider-braised beef and white beans

The day I made this stew it was nearly 70 degrees outside. Decidedly not stew weather. But as luck would have it, the temperature steadily dropped overnight and into the next day, when temperatures were in the 40s. Decidedly stew weather.

Considering this is the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day, I'd say my timing was perfect.

The stew was great with a wedge of hot buttered cornbread, but even better served over rice.

Cider Braised Beef and White Beans

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat (beef chuck or round, cut into small chunks)

4 to 6 tablespoons butter or coconut oil

1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped

1 red onion, diced

1 1/2 cups chopped carrots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

12 ounces sparkling apple cider (hard or nonalcoholic)

3 cups navy beans, soaked in water for 8 to 12 hours (see note) OR 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed

1 cup beef broth OR 1 teaspoon beef bouillon dissolved in 1 cup water

1 bay leaf

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a zip-close plastic bag, combine the flour, about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add a few pieces of the meat at a time; shake to coat well. Transfer to a bowl while you coat the rest of the pieces.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid set over medium heat. Brown meat in batches, being careful not to crowd pieces. Transfer browned pieces to a plate or bowl. Repeat to brown all the meat, adding butter or oil as needed.

Once all of the beef is browned, add about 1 tablespoon butter or oil to the pan and stir in the bell pepper, onion and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is beginning to turn translucent. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Add the cider, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil gently for 5 minutes. Add the soaked beans (if using canned add them in the last 30 minutes of cooking), beef broth and bay leaf and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Return the beef to the pan, nestling it on top of the bean mixture. Cover and place pot in oven and cook, stirring every 30 or 45 minutes, for 11/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until beef and beans are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Makes about 8 servings.

Note: Because I never know when the craving for homemade beans will strike I like to keep bags of already-soaked (and drained) beans in my freezer.

When ready to use, simply place the frozen beans in a colander and defrost under cool running water and proceed with recipe.

Food on 02/15/2017

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