I don't know about you, but I'm loving this cooler fall weather. There's something just so cozy about having to pull on a sweater on my morning walks, and even though I'm not a fan of leaf-raking, it's great not having to sweat my way through yardwork.
Fall also means more dishes are cooked inside my oven instead of on top of it. Beef stew is a favorite dinner dish because it's hearty, makes good use of crisper vegetables and can be prepared in just one pot. This version gets a flavorful Asian kick from the curry powder and fresh ginger and gets its umami from a few splashes of fish and soy sauces. And no, the fish sauce won't make the stew taste fishy.
I made the stew with potatoes, carrots and roasted tomatoes, but it also can be dressed up with a medley of mushrooms, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips or green beans.
My mother always made her stew with the biscuits cooked right on top of the meat, almost like dumplings. But I prefer to bake them separately so they don't have soggy bottoms. You also could serve it with buttery Ritz crackers, spoon it on top of rice or ladle it over mashed potatoes.
The stew is even more tasty the next day for lunch.
CURRIED BEEF STEW
Makes: 6 servings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds top round beef, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves chopped garlic
1-inch pieces fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups beef stock
1 large Spanish onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 or 3 dashes of fish sauce
14 ounces baby golden potatoes, cut in half
Biscuits or rice, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Place flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add beef cubes. Toss to combine, making sure the beef is evenly coated.
Add oil to a Dutch oven or large stockpot and heat until shimmery over medium high heat.
Add beef, a few pieces at a time, to cover the bottom of the pan. Brown meat until it forms a crust, about 3 minutes per side. (Don't stir.) Transfer to a plate and then repeat with the remaining beef pieces. You may have to add additional oil if the meat starts to stick to the pan.
Whisk together the curry powder, brown sugar, garlic and ginger in a small bowl.
When all the meat is browned, return it to the pan and sprinkle the curry mixture over the top, stirring to coat. Cook until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring often.
Add tomatoes with juices and beef stock and bring to a boil, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.
Stir in the onion, carrots, soy sauce and fish sauce, cover the pot with a lid and place in hot oven. Bake, covered, until beef is just getting tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender and meat can be cut with a spoon, about 30 minutes more. If the stew looks dry, add a little more broth or water.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve alone in a bowl with biscuits, or over cooked rice.