Some of us are like potatoes: thick skinned but soft inside when warmed

In 2009, a month before I became pregnant with Mini-ion #1, we traveled to Ireland.  It was a gorgeous, beautiful trip.  We were only there for about 5 days, and focused our trip mainly in Dublin.  On one day we did take an excursion to Glendaloch (which in gaelic means glen of two lakes).  It was a wet, rainy day (surprise, surprise) and after visiting some place and doing a bit of hiking  and get pretty drenched, our tour took us to this little tavern for some lunch and pints of Guinness.

Chilly, damp and tired, we had the most amazing lunch.  It was beef stew, but when you dipped your spoon into the bottom of it, you realized the stew was layered over mashed potatoes.  It was heavenly.

After having Mini-ion #1, and I was trying out this idea of having food on the table every night, I finally tracked down what looked like the most amazing beef stew recipe.  And it was.  Here it is from Epicurious.

I20131102_130427t was recently Halloween and while I’m not a huge fan of scary things, I am always a fan of getting together with friends.  Mini-ion #1’s two closest friends (and their families) came over to our neighborhood for a stint of trick-or-treating.  We then had a fire in our chimera in our driveway and hung out together while handing out candy.  It was really fun and hopefully a yearly tradition.

While it was oddly warm for October 31st, it was misty and damp, reminiscent of that trip to Ireland.  And I had prepared beef stew and mashed potatoes for us to use to warm up.

This recipe is a party favorite of ours.  It’s great to make in advance and heat up just as you are ready to serve it.  I also made it for a friend for her to enjoy when she had a baby.  I like keeping some in the freezer for when I’m not feeling well, it makes a body feel good.

Here’s how I adapted the recipe from Epicurious:

Ingredients:

– 2 Tablespoons butter

– 1 large onion, chopped

– 2 carrots, peeled and diced

– 1/4 cup vegetable oil

– 1-1/4 lbs stew beef, cut into bite size pieces

– 1/4 cup flour

– 1 Tablespoon minced garlic

– 3 cups chicken stock

– 3 cups red wine (I’ve also dropped the red wine and just used chicken stock instead)

– 2 Tablespoons tomato paste

– 1 Tablespoon sugar

– 1 Tablespoon dried thyme

– 1.5 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

– 2 bay leaves

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Cook the carrots and onions in the butter until tender (about 20 minutes).  Once cooked, put in a separate dish.

2. Chop the meat into bite size pieces and put in mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the flour over the meat and stir until all the meat is covered.  If all the meat isn’t covered, use a bit more flour as necessary.

3. Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat in same large stockpot.  Once hot, brown the stew meat until it is all browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, sauté 1 minute.

4. Add the chicken stock, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves.  Combine, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

5.  Add the vegetables, simmer about 40 minutes, when meat and vegetables are very tender.  Remove bay leaves.  Pour the top layer of fat off.  Serve over mashed potatoes.  Feel your insides warm.

Makes about 6 servings.

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