My mother in law, Sarah, makes the best beef stew. The first time I had it, I was dating my husband and took my parents to his mom’s house for Christmas. We’re talking travel, stay overnight in their house a few days, real Christmas. Looking back, that was rather brave of us. We weren’t even engaged.
Anyway, she served this Christmas Eve and I remember thinking Beef stew? As in that old-fashioned food so one eats anymore? This was long before the revival of retro dishes. But I got schooled that night. Not only did I love it, I couldn’t get enough. I not only had to ask for the recipe, but I had to stop making it for a few years because I once ate so much I made myself sick on it. True story. Everyone around the table loved it (there were other guests that night as well) and my dad even ate the cooked carrots.
Time has passed and I started making it again a couple of years ago, making sure I don’t eat too much and get sick again. I’ve made a few small changes over the years to suit our family’s tastes and the types of ingredients we like to use. The bottom line is that this is warm comfort food with layers of savory flavors that make you welcome the winter cold.
I think part of the successful marry of flavors in this dish is the unexpected baking spices. They sound odd, but they play with that beef like nothing I’ve had before. I always double or triple this recipe because guess what, it freezes well too!