Cooking On A Budget: Chuck Wagon Stew

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chuck Wagon Stew


Chuck wagon stew was the perfect dinner to have since Mother Nature decided to throw us yet another curve ball this week. We went from 60 degrees plus back down to a damp, cold and windy day so it seemed fitting to again prepare a more "hearty" and wintery type of meal.
There's a reason why I named this "Chuck" Wagon Stew - whatever vegetables I had available got chucked into the mix! You can make your own version and chuck what vegetables you have kicking around in the refrigerator that need to be used up.

  • 1 lb. beef chuck cubes
  • 1 tbsp. Crisco shortening (for searing)
  • 4-5 red potatoes - washed and cut in chunks
  • 3 large carrots - peeled and cut on the bias or sliced
  • 2 stalks celery - peeled and sliced small
  • 1 lrg. onion - peeled and chopped medium dice
  • 5-6 mushrooms- stems removed and sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper - cut in chunks
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic (for the pot) plus extra on the meat
  • onion powder to taste (for the meat)
  • 1 tsp. Gravy Master
  • cornstarch slurry (equal parts water and cornstarch for thickening)
  1. Salt and pepper the beef cubes along with some onion powder and granulated garlic.
  2. In a dutch oven or deep skillet over moderately high heat, add in one tablespoon Crisco shortening and melt it down. Let the shortening heat up and add in the beef chunks. Do this is batches and toss quickly in the pan to brown on all sides. Have a plate or bowl handy to transfer the seared beef cubes.
  3. When all of the cubes are seared, remove all but about a tablespoon of the accumulated fat and add in the celery, onions and carrots all at once. Reduce the heat to a medium low.
  4. As the vegetables begin to soften and release their natural juices, keep stirring and loosen up all of the good bits from the bottom and sides of the pot that occurred during the searing process.
  5. Add in the mushrooms and bell pepper and stir. Cook for about 30 seconds then de-glaze the pan with some of the water to help this process along. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the water, the Gravy Master and the beef broth to the pot.
  7. At this point add in the thyme, salt and black pepper to taste and the granulated garlic powder.
  8. Stir and add in the beef cubes. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is really tender.
  9. In the final 40 minutes of cooking add your potatoes. You don't want to add them too early and have them turn to mush.
  10. When the ribs are fully cooked, remove them to a platter.  Skim off excess fat with a ladle or use a fat separator.  If you want a thicker sauce - more like a gravy, make a slurry of equal parts water and cornstarch. Turn the heat to medium high and bring the liquid up to a boil. Slowly add in the slurry, stirring until you achieve the thickness you desire.
What also was fun and rather frustrating was trying to set up for this photo shoot. I had a wagon that my sister gave me years ago and felt I just had to have it available for using in the picture taking. My husband spent time cleaning it up and repainting it and fixing the wheels.
However, I just could not get the whole wagon in the shot properly. I must have taken 50-60 shots. So here's the wagon.

And here's a shot at least the wagon wheels are showing more!

AND I was super excited to have him find one of the old Pattaconk Inn Restaurant table cloths from when my Mom and step-dad owned it. It was in a picnic basket we had in the basement. I thought it was long gone and ever so distressed about it. Now it's back where it belongs!

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