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It’s getting chilly, isn’t it, friends? Time to bust out the belly-warming goodness of winter veggies and heavier fare.

This is yet another recipe belonging to the Family Cookbook. My Memere Rita INSISTS that she has the best beef stew recipe. Once my father made the mistake of mentioning “well, Doris [my mother] has a pretty good recipe herself,” my memere was in complete disbelief. No no, her soup was clearly the best, and none would compare.

I’m not sure how long ago this battle raged, but when my mother requested recipes of the Mater Familias, this one was sent, no doubt to prove a point. Now I love my mother dearly, and her beef stew is excellent, so I was a little defensive about the whole situation and didn’t want to like this stew. It contains veggies I’d never used before, but I went outside my comfort zone and, ironically, ended up with a new comfort food.

The broth is sweet owing to these mysterious turnips and parsnips, standard fare in many households, but not the one in which I grew up. I thought the recipe could use a bit more colour, so I threw in some celery. And oh my, if you serve this to a friend with some Tuscan bread, you may very well earn a friend for life.

Here we go! Don’t tell Memere I let the veggies get that close to the meat before it was cooked okay? Thanks dude, I appreciate that.

Roots!

Now we do the choppy chop.

Chop chop.

First step is to sear the beef. Memere wisely used the oil and butter method, in which you use two tablespoons of each. I try to keep my recipes lower cal wherever possible, but I am a meat LOVER and searing your meat on high in oil and butter is hands-down the best way to do it. For stew, it is no different.

Where's the beef?

At this point, I sauteed the onions and almost broke down and just dug in the way it is. Because there is no more amazing combination in my world than steak and onions.

Onions first.

Now we’re gonna start with our other veggies. Each is added one at a time in league with a cup or two of water. At first I was a little frustrated at the vagueness of this. “One to two cups?! Memere, just tell me how many cups already!” I think the idea is to make sure that all your veggies are at least partly in the water with each addition. Oh, and every time you add something, let it return to a boil before adding the next.

Carrots

Next carrots.

Celery

Now celery.

Turnips

And turnips.

Parsnips

And parsnips.

And potatoes!

And finally, potatoes.

Now you let this bad larry simmer for a little while and you end up with this little number here.

Warm your bones.

Wrap yourself in a blanket on the couch and enjoy!

Memere Rita’s “Back to My Roots” Beef Stew

2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1.5 lbs sirloin beef, lean cut, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4-5 carrots, peeled & sliced
4 ribs celery, sliced (editor’s addition, optional)
1 purple tap turnip, peeled & diced (I googled this term, and I think she means the small turnip. I could only find a large, so I used half of it)
4-5 parsnips, peeled & sliced
4-5 potatoes, peeled & diced

Let oil and butter get HOT on the stove, then sear beef for about two minutes. Reduce heat, add chopped onion and sautee to caramelize.

Now add each vegetable in turn with 1-2 cups hot water (just enough to cover most of the vegetables). After each addition, allow the pot to return to a boil:

Carrots
Celery
Turnips
Parsnips
Potatoes

After the potatoes, give it a good stir. I wouldn’t recommend stirring it again after it’s simmered, or your veggies will kind of fall apart in a mushy mess. Let simmer, uncovered, 30-50 minutes. Season to taste (and salt is an excellent idea here).

Serves 8 exhausted, growing farm boys. Reheats well.

  1. Hawkeye Said,

    Looks tasty…im gonna try it this evening I think. Thanks a lot for the post…Hawkeye

  2. tigerfish Said,

    My beef stew is made from the roots too! I know it’s delicious!

  3. Nikki Said,

    Mmmm. Your pictures look delicious! I’ve just recently begun going outside my comfort zone and trying new veggies…parsnips and turnips have never been in my kitchen but it looks like I’ll have to try them :)

  4. Esi Said,

    You take some seriously amazing pictures! I wish the weather here was cold. It’s 94 in October, go figure. Doesn’t really bring on the appetite for stews, but this looks great!

  5. Junebug Said,

    Holy $h!t those pictures are amazing. Do you hear me? Amazing.

  6. Lyra Rose Said,

    1. amazing pictures
    2. looks yummy, a lot like my Polish family’s Bigos
    3. ok so maybe this is just me but would you consider putting how many calories a serving is for what you make? thanks. as my family says dzięki

  7. Barb Said,

    I’ve been looking for a way to add more root veggies into our meal planning and since we do like stew this will be on my to make list. As for the purple tap turnip by chance could that actually be a purple “top” turnip? I’ve also nabbed a couple of your other recipes to try. I love the way you explain the process in plain everyday language just as if you were right there telling how to do it.
    Thanks for sharing!

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