French Beer Beef Stew over Mashed Potatoes

Did ya check out the photo for this recipe? This isn’t your typical Beef Stew. No carrots, no peas, none of your usual chunks of vegetables. Just stew meat, slowly simmered in a crock pot until fork-tender, a thick gravy made with beer, some herbs for seasoning . . . yeah strictly speaking this is meat and potatoes all the way. A man’s-man kind of stew.

With these cold nights ahead of us, a simple straightforward meat-and-potatoes dish seems a perfect fit.

French Beer Beef Stew over Mashed Potatoes
1 bouquet garni
3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 pounds stew beef, cubed in bite sized pieces
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon raw sugar (if you don’t have this, substitute light brown sugar)
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of beer (light or dark, personal preference)
4 slices slightly stale French bread spread on both sides with 2 tablespoons French mustard (optional)
Roux for thickening (2 tablespoons butter, melted and mixed with 1 tablespoon flour, browned).

Create Bouquet garni by bundling a little fresh parsley, 2-3 fresh Thyme Sprigs and two fresh bay leaves together with twine. Tie additional twine to bundle to aid in removing bundle at the end of cooking. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a sturdy skillet. Brown the meat on all sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pour meat and juices into a large crock pot set on HIGH.

Return skillet to stove. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Sauté for 15 minutes on medium-low to medium heat, stirring frequently. Onions should brown slightly.

Stir in the garlic, sugar, and vinegar and cook for two more minutes. Sprinkle the flour on top of the onion mixture and stir to coat.

Pour onion mixture over meat. Pour on the beer and add the bouquet garni, allowing string to drape over top of pot.

Reduce heat on pot to LOW and allow to simmer throughout the day unattended.

If desired, 30 minutes before serving, place French Bread on top of stew. Traditional French Beer Stew call for placing pieces of mustard covered bread on top of the stew while it cooks. This melts into the stew, adding more flavor. It is purely optional. Cover and simmer 30 minutes longer.

Pull bouquet garni from pot. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter mixed with 1 tablespoon of flour to create a roux. Add to stew to thicken sauce, let cook 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve hot over a bed of mashed potatoes. (Recipe to follow)

OPTIONAL: Serve with thick slices of French Bread to soak up all the juices.

GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
salt to taste
8 cloves garlic, cut in quarters
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place cubed potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, salt liberally, and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Boil for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, skimming starch foam from top occasionally and checking to keep from boiling over – lower heat if necessary. Drain potatoes and place in a blender.

Return saucepan to heat, lower heat to low, and add garlic and cream. Heat until garlic is fragrant and cream begins to simmer, then add to blender. Blend until potatoes are a totally smooth puree.

Add water or additional cream (gently heated in the microwave) as necessary to even out texture.

Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary just before serving.

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