butternut squash beef stew

Ok, we all know I love carrots, especially in sandwich cookie form, but I must say, little round slices of cooked carrot just don’t do it for me. They bring back memories of the previously-frozen and microwaved vegetable medley we used to get with lunch in the school cafeteria.

I always debate whether to include sliced carrots in soups but I was on a mission to make beef stew this weekend. Then, from the entrance of  Trader Joe’s, I spied a massive mound of butternut squash. At that moment, my choice of orange vegetable for this stew was obvious. Small butternut squashes (I’m pretty sure I just made that word up) are perfect for this Fall stew.

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I also have to mention my new love for stew beef. It’s mind-boggling how such a tough little piece of meat can practially fall apart with the touch of a spoon after 8 hours in a crock pot.

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The secret to the flavor in this stew is red wine and beef granules. I know you know I love my wine but before you go judging me, all but 1 glass of that wine went into the stew. I did my homework and found a number of well-reviewed recipes that all had red wine so that’s what I went with.

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That remaining glass went into my belly, obviously, after I had turned the crock-pot on late Saturday night.

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As for those beef granules that I mentioned… I know what you’re thinking: beef granules = beef bullion cube. NOT true. Beef granules are way more intense and my beef base of choice, especially when making french onion soup. They look a little bit like bacon bits so don’t go sprinkling them on your salad. That’d be gross. My biggest piece of advice when using beef granules is to add them slowly, no more than 1/4 teaspoon at a time. There’s nothing worse than an overly salty stew, especially if you’ve invested waited 8 hours for it to cook.

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After devouring the entire pot (with the exception of one portion saved for my Dad), red wine has ruined me. The depth of flavor from a red wine base rather than water or beef broth is incredible, especially after the stock is thickened slightly on the stove and with a few beef granules tossed in after cooking. Any beef stew recipe calling for water or stock is now just a waste of yummy meat and veggies to me.

P.S. While I only link to recipes I’d make again, I’ve decided to start *asterisking all of my personal favorites on my recipe page so you know which recipes absolutely rocked my world. I read a lot of food blogs, some with long lists of recipes that can be a little overwhelming, and love when other bloggers do this. It not only helps me narrow down my top choices but makes me feel like I know them better.

P.P.S. One of my other favorite butternut squash dishes.

Questions of the day: Carrots or butternut squash? Asterisk or not?

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