Monday, December 31, 2012

Cinnamon Beef Stew w Roasted Butternut Squash

Well, this is the last recipe of 2012 and I have to say it has been a pretty good year :)  Elevate your stew to the next level by making this fragrant unexpected tagine with roasted butternut squash.  I added cinnamon and allspice because that is how my Grandmother Dee always made hers.  Using seasonal butternut squash, roasted to bring out the unique sweetness of the vegetable, this stew is one of my all time favorites.  I also added some artichoke hearts because that is what I had on hand, but feel free to omit them if you don't have any.  They aren't needed.  Or replace them with another veggie of your choice.  Using seasonal veggies and an inexpensive cut of beef, this stew not only satisfies your stomach but also your wallet.  It is the perfect winter stew with a rich fragrance, a natural sweetness from the butternut squash, and a bit of spice.  Enjoy!

Rich, spicy and sweet: This healthy stew is sure to satisfy on a cold winter's day!

Ingredients (makes a large crock pot full of stew... probably 8-10 servings):
5lb round roast, cut into 1" cubes (I used 2 - 2 1/2lb roasts)
3tbs butter (use grass fed butter for extra health benefits)
Salt & pepper
1 white onion, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1tbs paprika
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp corriander
1tsp garlic powder
1/2tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
1tsp ground ginger
2tsp crushed red pepper (less if you don't like spice)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2c beef stock (check to make sure it's MSG and gluten free:  I use Rachael Ray brand)
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into 1" cubes
3tbs extra virgin olive oil
12oz frozen artichoke hearts (optional)

1. In a large saute pan, heat 1tbs butter over high heat.  Season beef generously with salt and pepper.  Add beef to the pan (I had to do this in 2 batches using about a tablespoon of butter each batch.  Make sure you only add enough beef to cover the pan in a single layer).  Cook until the outside of the meat is a deep rich brown color, stirring/tossing occasionally.  This will probably take about 10 minutes per batch.  Just before the beef is done, stir/toss in all of the ground spices (paprika, cinnamon, garlic powder, allspice, ginger, and red pepper flakes).  I tossed half of the spices in with the first batch of meat and half in with the second.  You want to make sure some of the spice sticks to the meat and becomes fragrant.  Place beef in a large crock pot (alternatively you could boil it over the stove but I slow cooked mine).
2. Once all of the beef is browned and removed from the pan, add another tablespoon of butter.  Once hot, add the chopped onion and 4 cloves of garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally and scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.   You don't want to leave them behind!  Once the onion is soft and browning, add the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Pour over the meat in the slow cooker and cook on high for about 5 hours (or until beef is nice and tender). Alternatively, you could simmer over the stove for a few hours to get a similar result. 
3. About an hour before the beef is done, warm the artichokes in the microwave (if using and if frozen).  Then add them to the stew.
4. Once the artichokes are in, preheat the oven to 450F.  Toss your butternut squash with 2 or 3 tbs of olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.  Place on a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil and place in the oven.  Roast, tossing occasionally, until the butternut squash is easily pierced with a fork and the outside is browning.
5. Before serving, gently toss the butternut squash in the stew.  Serve hot.

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