Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Iron Skillet Beef Stew

Iron Skillet Beef Stew
Dorcas Annette Walker

Homemade stew is among the many different soups that I make during the winter months. I always keep carrots on hand and whenever I don’t know what to make I’ll cook up a batch of stew. Homemade stew is quick and easy to make, along with being a healthy dish. In fact growing up I was always told to eat my carrots as they were good for my eyes. Knowing that carrots are healthy still didn’t prepare me for the wealth of information that is available about carrots.

Carrots date back to the 7th century when they were found cultivated in Afghanistan ranging from purple, white, pale yellow, red, green/yellow, and even black. The Romans often ate carrots raw, in oil, salt, and vinegar or cooked them with a sauce. By the 13th century carrots were being grown in fields, orchards, gardens, and vineyards in Germany and France. It wasn’t until the 15th century that Dutch scientist developed orange carrots in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family, when carrots became orange. In the 16th century carrots were started to be used as flavoring for meat dishes rather than as main vegetable. European voyagers carried the carrot seed to America soon after discovering the New World. The struggling colonists grew carrots at the first English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia in 1609. Plants were grown from seed and soon the plants escaped into the wild, which became known as Queen Anne’s lace. In the reign of James I it was fashionable for ladies to decorate their hats and clothes with the lacy green foliage in place of feathers. Thomas Jefferson raised several types of carrots in his Monticello garden. Today there are festivals world wide that celebrate carrots as well as museums and many collectors of carrots. Carrots are found in art and science including several major works of 17th century Dutch masters art. There has been a controversy whether carrots are a fruit or vegetable. Today carrots are considered biennial, flowering in the second year above ground. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, helps our body resist infection, and lowers cholesterol levels 20 percent just by eating two carrots a day. There is as much calcium in nine carrots as there is in a glass of milk and three carrots will give you enough energy to walk three miles. One pound of carrots gives a normal man enough energy to raise 64 tons one foot in the air, produce one ounce and eleven grains of sugar, and contains fourteen ounces of water. You can buy raw carrots year round. Storing them in the refrigerator will preserve their flavor, texture, and beta carotene content. Carrots are actually more nutritious when cut by a knife and cooked rather than eaten raw. The average person will eat 10,866 carrots in his lifetime. Carrots are good for dandruff and large raw carrots make excellent baby teethers. In traditional St Patrick’s Day parades in the USA carrots and cabbages are thrown from floats and it is considered lucky to catch one. So if you don’t have any carrots in your refrigerator, be sure and stock up next time you shop.

My Iron Skillet Beef Stew is a well balanced meal served with hot corn bread or muffins. My recipe is simple to make using only a large iron skillet that helps flavor the vegetables and beef as they simmer in rich gravy. Preparation time for the Iron Skillet Beef Stew is about an hour and this recipe serves six.

Iron Skillet Beef Stew

1 lb beef tips cut into inch pieces
Roll beef pieces in flour and brown in shortening in the bottom of a large iron skillet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, regular salt, pepper, and one tablespoon of dried onion.
6 c water
2 c carrots (sliced or baby carrots cut in half)
3 c potatoes (cubed in inch pieces)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley leaves
1 tb crushed dried celery leaves
Bring to a full boil and cook until the vegetables are tender- about 30 minutes- stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Then stir in:
1 pkg brown gravy mix
Bring back to a boil until thickened. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!

Weekly tip: Cut up your leftover beef roast into any leftover gravy and freeze to use for your next batch of stew!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by mail at: Dorcas Walker, 929 Wildwood Lane, Jamestown, TN 38556 or email me at: dorcaswalker@twlakes.net For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com or htpp://dorcasannettewalker.blogspot.com for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.

1 comment:

Dorcas Annette Walker said...

#1. You can also use a heaping tb of tapioca to help thicken the stew!

#2. If you brown the meat first it will add flavor to the stew. Add a couple tb of flour and brown it too in the bottom of the pan before adding any liquids or veggies!