Sunday, October 30, 2011

Harvest Stew

In the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live, autumn feels magical. As the days become colder and darker and mist settles in, the trees in the square just outside our home are brightly aglow with tiny white lights that shimmer like diamonds. Classical music is playing softly as I write these words sitting beside the hearth, where a warm fire illuminates the old copper ladle hanging from the mantel. I love this time of year! The autumn meals I serve reflect the warmth and comfort we instinctively seek from food that is satisfying and nutritious. Please ... join Ron and me as we sup!

When I came up with this dish last night, I named it for the season: Harvest Stew. To prepare it, I used what I had on hand. I suggest you do the same: Consider these measurements and ingredients approximate. 
Harvest Stew:
16 - 20 commercially prepared meatballs, cooked frozen (see Note)
1 tbsp. bacon fat
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced in ½-in. chunks 
2 c. stock
2 tsp. beef extract
½ butternut squash, sliced in ½-in. chunks
2 red-jacket potatoes (this variety tends to keep its shape), unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1 carrot, sliced in ½-in. chunks 
1 tbsp. Cajun spice mix (or use my Creole Seasoning Mix blogged January 14, 2012)
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 can niblets, drained and water used in stew
Handful of parsley with stems, coarsely chopped
Bake or fry meatballs as recipe or package directs. Drain or blot fat and set cooked meatballs aside. While meatballs are cooking, melt bacon fat over medium heat. Add onion and celery, stirring until onion is translucent and celery is slightly softened. Gradually add stock, extract, and water from niblet corn, slowly bringing to a boil. Add squash, potatoes, carrot, and meatballs, reducing heat to simmer. In a small bowl, combine spice mix and flour, gradually stirring a little hot broth into the mixture to make a thin paste. Stir floured broth into stew. Cover and simmer 10 min. Add corn, simmering a further 5 min. Stir in parsley and serve at once. Makes 2 generous servings, with a little extra left over for lunch the next day.
Note: Be my guest if you want to make your own meatballs (My June 14, 2011, meatball recipe is one of the most popular blogs I’ve written). To save time, I usually keep a bag of ready-made meatballs in the freezer. I buy the unseasoned kind, increasing their versatility in several different uses.

Bake meatballs as package directs

Prepare vegetables while meatballs bake

Start stew with coarsely chopped onion, stirring until soft

Gradually add stock with beef extract

Just before serving, toss in fresh parsley

Ready for the table in just over 30 min.!

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