When you smell the aroma of this stew cooking, you will feel like a superstar cook; seriously. It's fantastic. It's also easy. Aunt Bette's stew obviously takes five hours to cook, so you do have to plan ahead, but it's simple to prep and takes care of itself once you put it in the oven.
2 sweet potatoes (our addition)
3 celery stalks
6 medium carrots*
3 lb. chuck roast
1 T sugar
salt and pepper to taste (we like kosher salt)
4 T quick-cooking tapioca (baking aisle)
1 large sweet onion (not pictured)
1 large can of tomato juice
1 French bread loaf (for at the meal)
*I know, I know; there's only one in the photo (Mr.4444 was running to the store for me when I took the photo.)
**Recipe calls for canned, but we wouldn't dream of it!)
We used this pan, which is 12" x 18" and about 3 inches deep. A Dutch oven would be fine, too, but we added even more beef that I told you about, and it made a huge amount that would not have fit in our Dutch oven.
First, wash and rinse the veggies. (I love Veggie Wash.)
Cut the celery into 1-inch chunks like this:
Peel the potatoes, but put them in water until they are all peeled, or they will turn icky colors while they wait.)
Slice the onion like this...
Make the bacon. Bacon?! What bacon? Why, the bacon you like to use as a weekend morning alarm clock for your teenage son! (Always the multi-tasker, I am!)In case you were wondering how much snow we still have, I took the next photo on the deck. Put the sugar, tapioca (which looks a lot like sugar), salt and pepper in the same bowl, mixed.
Cut the fat off the meat and put it in a huge bowl with the veggies as you prep; it's easier to mix everything and then put it in your pan.
Cut the carrots like so...
And the potatoes/sweet potatoes, in eighths...
Here's proof that Mr.4444 has nice jeans, too! (And a nice butt, of course.)
Sprinkle half of the seasonings over the top of what you have so far. (You will not have this much meat, unless you are really into beef, like we are.)
Give it a good stir, sprinkling the rest of the seasonings and tapioca to get it all spread throughout.
Dump it into your pan and pour tomato juice over all, just until barely covered (though it's not even necessary, according to my friend Jennie, so don't worry if you don't have enough :) Bake (covered) for five hours at 250 degrees. When you smell it cooking, that means it's just about done. Only then can you afford to check a potato.
Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?! For instructions in how to eat this stew like a pro, click over to Half-Past Kissin' Time's Beef: It's What's for Dinner.