We had our first legitimate snowfall today, and so I knew it was the perfect time to try out a stew recipe I recently pinned. The idea of having something cozy and warm in the oven all afternoon made me happy. I will feel less happy about cozy stews in March when I want light, Spring-like foods and my environment is still raging like Old Man Winter, but that's not the point. This stew is different than ones I've tried in the past because it isn't made in a Dutch oven or crock pot, it's made in a baking pan (glass or ceramic). It also has so few ingredients/spices that I honestly found myself wondering if it was going to be a huge flop, but the 5 minute prep time convinced me to forge on. Something magic happened in that oven with these few ingredients. This stew was so delicious (and so gorgeous I almost didn't want to scoop into it), and a nice reminder that simple really is almost always better. Get this in your oven and cozy up your life. My only regret is that I didn't open a nice bottle of red to enjoy along with it.
Simple Beef Stew
-adapted slightly from Pinch of Yum
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into cubes (I always buy my stew meat pre-cut)
3 stalks of celery, cut diagonally into large chunks
5-7 carrots (I used 7 because mine were kind of skinny), peeled and cut diagonally into large chunks
2 small or one large yellow or white onion, sliced thinly
2 t. kosher salt
1 T. sugar
2 T. quick tapioca (it's in the baking aisle in a red box, little white pearls. Don't freak out, they will dissolve and thicken the stew)
1 c. tomato juice
Spray a 9x13 or similar baking dish (I have a large oval ceramic dish I love) and add all ingredients. I started with veggies, topped with meat, sprinkled with spices and tapioca, then poured the tomato juice over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 3-4 hours, or until beef is tender. Remove foil and continue baking for another 10-15 min to brown the top and fully thicken the gravy. Sprinkle with fresh chopped flat leaf parsley. Pause for just a moment to admire the gorgeousness of the dish. Scoop onto plates and serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes (my choice). Egg noodles would be a good choice too.