It’s that time of the year in North Central Florida where the temperatures have finally dropped to a comfortable range. The last few days have been in the 40s and 50s overnight and in the 70s during the day. Doors and windows are being opened to let fresh air in and some folks are breaking out the winter wear.
This is also the time of year that will see an uptick in the types of foods that provide warmth, particularly chilis, soups and stews. My first creation of the crockpot season is a variation of an old fashioned beef stew.
Sometimes I follow a particular recipe and sometimes I like to experiment with flavors I may available or may be craving. When I purchased some of the ingredients I had a hankering for beef, potatoes, carrots and zucchini. If I had been grilling it might have been kabobs or grilled steak with a side of these veggies mixed with olive oil and cooked in tin foil.
The other ingredients are spices that I normally have lying around, Vidalia Onions which are my favorite onions, and a bottle of Shipyard Brewing’s Blood Orange Belgian Style.
Ingredients for Belgian Mushroom and Beef Stew:
- 2 lbs. Stewing Beef
- 1 lbs. Portobello Mushrooms (sliced)
- 3 Yukon Potatoes (cut into half inch cubes)
- 2 Vidalia Onions (cubed)
- 2 cups of cut carrots (cut into 1 inch pieces and halved)
- 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 12 oz. bottle Belgian
- 1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- salt to taste
- additional water as needed
I prepped the night before by taking two pounds of stewing beef and putting it in a bowl with a teaspoon of Soy Sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire and the 12 ounces of Belgian beer and mixing them in a bowl. Place a cover on the bowl and put into the refrigerator overnight. (Overnight may seem long but I wanted to start the crockpot cooking before I went into work.)
In the morning I began the crockpot build by adding the remaining ingredients in this order:
- bay leaf
- marinated beef pieces
- black pepper
- Cajun seasoning
- remaining tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- leftover marinade juice
I turned the crockpot on low and went to work. When I got home at the end of the day this is what I saw:
I sampled the stew and liked the flavor but added a little more salt and a cup of water, and let it cook for another hour.
While it was cooking I tried to decide what to pair it with and decided to go with the Victory Brewing’s Liquid Luxury V12, a Belgian Quad and very delicious on it’s own.
After the stew was ready, I turned the crockpot off and sliced some French bread into 1 inch slices and smeared some butter and garlic powder on them then toasted them in a toaster over.
Okay, let’s be honest Belgians go with pretty much anything so the Victory V12 was no risk at all. And I always prefer a hard roll or garlic bread to go with my soups and stews. So for me that seemed natural as well.
The stew was a little risky, but I was shooting for a flavor similar to a French onion, which I believe I got as close as I can without actually making a French onion soup. The onion flavor was subtle and if you substitute Yellow onions for Vidalia onions it would certainly enhance that flavor. The carrots and zucchini added a sweetness, which is why I used the Cajun seasoning to balance it.
Overall it was a great stew. I loved the texture of the ingredients and the flavor combinations along with the pairing of the garlic bread and the Belgian beer.
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.