Beef Stew with Lentils.

I recently purchased beef cubes which are perfect for stewing and threw them in the freezer for a rainy day. That day came much sooner than expected and I came home starving and eager to cook something meaty. Typically, I would saute the beef to brown the cubes a little bit with onions and garlic before adding more ingredients to it. In the past, I’ve added a can of tomato paste and some beef or chicken broth, and maybe even some rice to cook with the beef together. Ahh, but my rice days are limited now and I opted for a low-carb option instead.

I was feeling rather lazy, so I decided to skip thawing the well-frozen meat and just threw it into a covered saucepan on high heat. I added some honey lager beer that I was drinking (ok, I traded rice consumption for beer) to help soften the meat and steam up the pot a bit. This actually worked pretty well and quickly. While the meat continued to thaw and cook, I started rummaging through my spice rack and started dashing the following items onto the meat:

  • coriander
  • cumin
  • chinese cinnamon
  • salt
  • garlic salt
  • black bepper
  • red pepper
  • Cavender’s seasoning
  • ground mustard
  • ginger
  • a touch of sesame oil

I also added a bit of minced garlic from the fridge. While I had the fridge open, I scanned my vegetable options. I pulled out the following:

  • carrots
  • green pepper
  • jalapeno pepper
  • red onion
  • tomato

I chopped up each of the vegetables and tossed them in. I added a little more beer for stock. I added some more of the spices. Kept stirring from time to time.

The meat was starting to cook all the way through, so I pulled a can of lentils from my pantry and added those to the pot as well. The lentils add a nice heartiness to the stew and are a great source of iron and protein.

Lastly, as everything was just about cooked through — meat was tender, carrots were softening, aromas were mixing together nicely — I added some sliced mushrooms to the pot and let them cook in for another 10 minutes or so. Overall prep/cook time was about 45 minutes. It may have been faster if I’d thawed the meat the night before. However, my lazy approach worked just fine and gave me the time I needed to chop through everything.

The beef was more tender than I’ve ever cooked it before, and I wonder if this is because I didn’t saute it with garlic and onions to brown it first — perhaps this dries it out? The only liquids added to the pot were less than half a bottle of beer and about 1/8 cup of water that I didn’t drain out of the can of lentils.

Throughout cooking, I tasted the stew to make sure I had seasoned it just right. I needed to add more salt throughout the cook time as I added more and more to the pot.

The meal was delicious, hearty, and filling. I look forward to having another bowl tomorrow night once all the flavors have blended in together further, and I’ll probably put the rest in the freezer for a later date.

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