Butternut Beef Stew with Pearl Couscous.
Ready, set, go: who is the first person you want to share some stew with?
Besides Adele. I’d probably say Adele.
Because how much is that song just kill.ing.it. right now?! Ah. It’s so darn good.
But anyone… who would you pick? And real people, not imaginary people. Invisible internet friends count though. OF COURSE.
Did you have imaginary friends as a kid? I totally did.
Want to know their names? (Probably not but too bad.)
Ball. And R. Ball and R.
Like, what? Where on earth did I get that?
Hellllllo from the other side, Ball and R. (Get it? I’ll go away now.)
GUYS. It’s soup weather. STEW weather, if you will. Soup weather is one thing but stew weather is another and I’ve declared it stew weather ASAP. I can’t take any more rainy gloom so I’m just going to swim through my bowl of butternut stew. Doggy paddle, probably, because I’m weighed down with Halloween candy and can it please just be the weekend yet so that can get out of my house.
This beef. I made it like my mom makes her pot roast, which is tender and fall-apart good – and right on the stovetop! It takes a few hours as expected and does require a little maintenance, so you can throw the whole thing in the oven if that works better for you. Or even the slow cooker and do a last minute transfer, but then you sacrifice a little flavor. Whomp whomp.
Um, speaking of the slow cooker, I have been a slow cooker snob the last two years and basically refused to make dinner using it. Because everything in the slow cooker eventually ends up tasting like “slow cooker.” Do you feel me?
BUT. Being the ginormous hypocrite that I am, I made a slow cooker meal about three weeks ago and have been using it ever since. Maybe it’s the baby thing (wah wah, I have no time, wah) or just that we’ve been extra busy, but I’ve been tossing things in there and actually… eating them later.
You can do that with this if you really want to, but I do prefer to brown my beef, onions, mushrooms and all that in the same pot. Why must I make everything difficult, whyyyy.
I’m not even going to apologize for the butternut anymore. It’s just a given. Except saying that kind of IS apologizing so I’m going to stop being passive aggressive right now.
Oh! But if you hate the butternut, go for sweet potatoes. Or go for this cabernet braised short rib stew.
That. That… I have no words. It’s not super different from this version though, which is excellent.
So let’s talk about the couscous instead. I LOVE pearl couscous. It has to be pearl though – I don’t really care for the tinier version. Pearl couscous was the first kind I tried ages ago and it hooked me instantly. I prefer it to quinoa too, so take that millennials!
All you do is stir it right into the soup (a whole wheat version!!) a few minutes before serving and it gets all plump and wonderful. It adds another element to this itty bitty hug in a bowl and takes barely any time at all. Like an updated beef and barley, maybe?
Whatever it is, I will gladly take it. All of it!
- 3 pound beef chuck roast
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup pumpkin beer, dry red wine or your liquid of choice
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 16 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups cubed, 1-inch butternut squash
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 2 cups cold water
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
Heat a large stock pot over medium high heat. Season the roast with the salt and the pepper evenly (adding a bit more if needed). Place 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in the skillet. Add the roast and sear on all sides until golden brown. Reduce the heat and pour in the beer, wine or liquid of your choice (stock or water is fine!). Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours, turning once or twice, until the beef is falling apart. Keep an eye on the beef and if you need more liquid, add it. You want the liquid to be slightly simmering the entire time. If you want to make this process a bit easier, you can cut the roast in half before searing.
When the roast is falling apart, transfer it to a large bowl with the remaining liquid in the pot. Set the heat to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to coat. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are slightly soft, another 5 minutes. Stir in the butternut squash. Add in the nutmeg, shredded beef (and liquid) and stock to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the squash just softens.
Place the cold water in a shaker bottle. Add the flour to the water and cover the bottle (or jar) and shake for 30 seconds to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the stew and stir well. Increase the heat a bit until the stew is simmering. Let it cook for 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season additionally if needed – you may need a bit more salt, you may not. 15 minutes before serving, stir in the pearl couscous. Cook for 10 or 15 minutes, just until the couscous softens. Serve with freshly chopped herbs on top.
But how can you not?