Recipe: Hobbit Stew

It's National Potato Day!  I don't know about you, but when I think of potatoes, I inevitably think of one thing:

In the film adaptation of The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee and Smeagol go head to head in a little battle of culinary preferences, with Smeagol preferring his meals still raw and "wriggling", while Samwise waxes poetic about "lovely big golden chips" (that's fries for us Americans).  It's the love of the spud that launched a thousand internet memes and remixes.

So on this most holy of holidays, I say we pay tribute to Samwise and stick some potatoes in a stew.  Like many people, I spend most of my days at work, so I prefer a stew that can go in the slow cooker and be ready by the end of the day.  Chop up all the vegetables the night before to make things come together even easier in the morning.


Hobbit Stew

1.5 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks

salt and fresh cracked pepper

4 tablespoons flour 

vegetable oil

1/2 cup Lake-town's finest red wine

2 1/2 cups beef broth

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

2 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch chunks

5 cremini mushrooms, chopped

half an onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 sprigs fresh thyme

chopped parsley

In a bowl, season the meat liberally with salt and pepper.  Add 2 tablespoons of flour toss to coat.  Heat a skillet with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally to brown on all sides.  Once meat is brown, remove to the slow cooker.  Add potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme on top of the meat.

In the skillet, deglaze the pan with wine.  Add 2 more tablespoons of flour and stir - it will seem like a thick paste.  Add beef broth and heat until slightly thickened (lumps of flour are ok, they'll cook out in the slow cooker).  Season with salt and pepper, add to the slow cooker, and give everything a good stir.

Cook on low for 8 hours.  When ready to eat, taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed, and mix in some fresh chopped parsley.  Serve with some crusty bread and a pint of Barliman's Best.