All I wanted to eat on my birthday was this Beef Stew. So the day after I started dinner early. Something about the potatoes being in mashed form and served on top of the stew instead of cubed chunks inside, make me so happy. It is so comforting and delicious, and totally makes weary family members melt at the sight and smell. This recipe is a compilation of a couple of different recipes, but it has everything I like. It's a crock pot meal so you can make it ahead and let it cook low and slow all day. When you get home you're just about ready. I love the step I learned from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. She places most of the ingredients to her stew in the crock pot, but the carrots go in a foil pouch and then is set on top of the stew mixture during cooking. It keeps the carrots a more bright orange instead of the dingy brown from simmering in beef juices all day. Either way it will taste the same.
Now don't feel like you have to make fancy mashed potatoes. You can use instant mashed potatoes if necessary. Or you can put potato chunks in the stew itself. Whatever you need, or have the time for. The Bleu Cheese Massed Potatoes are a staple at my house. We love Bleu Cheese. I always have a giant tub in my fridge so it's an easy addition. You don't have to make a special purchase. You can just have naked mashed potatoes, or add Parmesan, Cheddar, or Ranch Dressing. All of the above will make a great mashed potato. Enjoy!!
Beef Stew with Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes
3-4 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil (you'll need more)
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
8 oz. mushrooms
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
4 cups water
1 beef stew seasoning packet
1/4 c. Red Wine vinegar (or 1 c. red wine)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 c. sugar
1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 15 oz. cans green beans or 1 bag frozen peas
In a large fry pan or wide stock pot place the oil and saute the meat until browned. You'll have to work in batches or the meat ends up boiling instead of searing. You want some nice browned chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Once all of the meat is browned and seasoned place in the crock pot. In the same pan you cooked the meat, now add a little more oil, the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Let them sizzle around until softened. Add the tomato paste at this time. Stir it around until it spreads evenly through the veggies and then add the water, beef stew seasoning packet, vinegar and soy sauce. Stir until combined. At this point I usually check the seasoning of the sauce. I usually add just a little bit of sugar and more salt and pepper if necessary. Adjust to your liking. Now pour the veggies and the sauce in with the meat. Turn crock pot to low, and get your carrots ready.
You're going to want to use some pretty heavy duty tinfoil, or a double layer of foil. Place all the chopped up carrots on the foil and drizzle a little olive oil and salt and pepper over top. Fold up as you would a tinfoil dinner. Make sure there's no holes. Place the foil packet on top of the meat mixture and cook according to directions. You'll want to cook on low for 6-8 hours. My crock pot cooks everything on high even on the low setting, so the stew only took about 4 hours. You just want your meat to be extra tender. I placed my stew on the "Keep Warm" setting for quite a few hours and it still turned out great. right before serving take the carrots out of the foil and pour them and the juices they created into the stew. Add the drained green beans or frozen peas. Whichever you want to use. Just let them sit in the stew until they're warmed through.
I like my stew a little thinner, but if you want a thicker stew you can add a little cornstarch and milk mixture to the stew and stir quickly to prevent lumps. The mixture needs to come to a boil after the milk mixture is added to fully thicken up. If I was doing this I'd use:
1/4 c. milk
1-2 T. cornstarch
To serve the stew I use big deep dishes as bowls. We ladle up the stew and then top with a big spoonful of mashed potatoes. The thinner stew is so tasty with the taters. If you don't want to make the mashed potatoes, then by all means add 3-4 c. chopped potatoes with the carrots in the foil packet and cook away.
Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes
5 lbs. Russet or Red Potatoes (I use both at different times. Either one.)
Peel and cube potatoes and place in a pot and pour enough water to almost cover the potatoes. Add a good size pinch of salt. A good 2 t. usually. Bring the potatoes to a boil and then turn the heat down and let them boil gently for 20 minutes. Check for tenderness when done. If they're still a little crunchy, let them cook a little longer until soft.
Drain water and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Once they are mostly mashed I add:
Butter (approx. 1/4 c.)
Sour cream (appox 1/2 c.)
Bleu Cheese crumbles 1/2 -1 c. depending on how strong you want them to be.
milk or half and half. (appox. 1 c.)
I use my hand mixer at this time and star blending. I've noticed that I usually have to make my potatoes a little wetter than I would like to eat because by the time they get to the table they usually stiffen up a bit. Taste seasoning. If you need more bleu cheese bite, then add it, or salt and pepper. You want these potatoes to be able to stand on their own. You don't want them to just be the filler for the sauce, you want them to be tasty just by themselves. Serve on top of stew. Enjoy!!