Stew meat generally is tough and requires a long simmer to become tender. Who has time for a long simmer at the end of a long day at work?
But stews are so right for the season, it seems a shame to give them up. Sure, you can plan ahead and make them on the weekend. I’m guessing I’m not the only person whose weekends rarely are relaxed enough to spend much time contemplating my dinners for the rest of the week.
Instead, I decided to come up with a beef stew that could be tossed together on a weeknight. It was easier than I expected.
I replaced the meat with tender sirloin tips, which worked perfectly. It’s important to adapt the cooking technique to this cut of meat.
The solution is to brown the meat first, then set it aside while the other ingredients cooked. I returned the meat to the pot toward the end of cooking.
The result is perfect taste and texture.
Speedy Beef and Butternut Stew
Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active) 2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds sirloin beef tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt and ground black pepper
In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add beef, in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan, and cook — turning until browned on all sides, but still rare at the center, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a plate.
Return the saucepan to the heat and add the squash and carrots. If the pan is too dry to easily saute the vegetables, you can add a splash of olive oil. Saute until the squash begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic, then continue to cook until the onion is tender, about another 6 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, broth, paprika, thyme and mustard powder. Bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots and squash are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Return the beef to the pot, as well as any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Simmer for 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.
Nutrition per serving: 340 calories; 150 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 16 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 28 g protein; 600 mg sodium.Servings: 6