NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 10, 2012

Speeding up slowly simmered beef stew

Almost by definition, beef stew isn’t a weeknight-friendly dish.

That’s mostly a matter of the meat. Stew meat generally is tough and requires a long simmer to become tender. But who has time for a long simmer at the end of a long day at work?

But stews are so right for the season, it seemed a shame to give them up. Sure, you could plan ahead and make them on the weekend. But I’m guessing that I’m not the only person whose weekends rarely are relaxed enough to spend much time contemplating my dinners for the rest of the week.

Instead, I decided to come up with a beef stew that could be tossed together on a weeknight. It was easier than I expected.

The first step was replacing the meat. Tender sirloin tips worked perfectly. But it was important to adapt the cooking technique to this cut of meat. If I just tossed it into the pot and let it cook with the rest of the ingredients, they would end up tough from overcooking. But I didn’t want to add them only at the end, either, as this would prevent browning.

The solution was browning the meat first, then setting it aside while the other ingredients cooked. The meat then was returned to pot toward the end of cooking. The result was perfect taste and texture.

SPEEDY BEEF AND BUTTERNUT STEW

Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

11/2 pounds sirloin beef tips, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)

1 cup baby carrots, halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

Salt and ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil.

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