A cooking and baking journal

Redoing Stew

1/24/10: Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Fluffy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Meal details: For the main course I made a bright colored stew using round steak and butternut squash. And for a side, I made a special type of mashed potatoes using heavy cream and roasted garlic.

Defining moments: The first thing that pops into my mind is the cut of meat. My Papa, an old hand at choosing cuts of meat, chose a round steak for the stew. The steak was pretty darn big and it is probably the largest piece of meat I ever wielded. But I wielded it, and that is a good thing. Another significant part of this meal for me was the use of sun-dried tomatoes. I never used nor tasted them before. It's always very interesting to try out something new.

Recipe sources: The beef and butternut stew is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, the host of Everyday Italian and Giada at Home, both which air on the Food Network Channel. The mashed potato recipe is a George Duran creation. George Duran is the host of Ham on the Street (a show that comes on Food Network sometimes, but I believe it has been canceled), and now is the new host of the Ultimate Cake Challenge on TLC. I chose these two recipes because I am part of the Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge that is being hosted by the I Blame My Mother blog. Learn more about this challenge here.

What I learned: I learned that my Papa has had bad results with stew beef before so I needed a different cut of meat. When he was at the store he chose a round steak which is a lean cut of meat that comes from the thigh of the cow. Since it is lean it needs to be stewed or cooked in some sort of liquid (braising will work here) for a long time to make the meat more tender. So as you can see this cut works will with this technique!
I didn't want to cut the whole piece of meat when it was raw (mainly because we don't have a large cutting board specifically for meat), so I roasted it for about 25 minutes in a 375F oven. I was then able to cut it into 1"cubes with no fuss or mess.
About the mashed potatoes. I learned from Annemarie that beating the potatoes with an electric beater for a few minutes really makes them fluffy, especially with this particular recipe since it has heavy whipping cream.

Any modifications? Yes, I made some to the stew recipe. I used round steak instead of stew beef and I cut them into 1"cubes instead of 2"(easier to chew). I also prepared the meat in a different way and I used one acorn squash instead of butternut.

How it tasted? I am very happy to say that the stew was enjoyed! Stew doesn't have a great reputation around here. The stew had a muted orange color--much different from your typical dark and gloomy broth--and the beef was tender and flavorful. The addition of squash, wine, and tomatoes was the key to making this stew great. The squash was soft and it soaked up all the goodness of the broth and the tomatoes were like little pockets of flavor.

The mashed potatoes was also very good. I kept on the skins so they weren't totally smooth (we like it that way), but the cream really made it fluffy. I roasted the garlic in the oven and added it to the potatoes but I didn't detect much garlic flavor. Roasted garlic is mellow so I'm guessing I needed to use more; maybe 3 heads for 2 times the recipe?

How about a 2nd time? Yes, I would do both recipes again.

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