This beef stew is perfect for when there's a chill in the air. Unlike many stews, this one is good on the first evening, although it's just as good leftover.
As with most soups, once the chopping is done, this requires a minimal amount of time actually spent at the stove. The polenta takes 15-20 minutes total, concurrent with the last bit of stew simmering.
From the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried basil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 lb. boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 1-in. pieces
2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 t dried or 1 t fresh rosemary, crushed or snipped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can of beef broth
1-1/2 c. dry red wine
8 oz. boiling onions
5-6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 in. chuncks
1/2 c. snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley (basil is also great, if you have it)
1/4 c. tomato paste
Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional, for garnish)
3 c. milk
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. water
1 t salt
1 T butter
1. Place flour and dried herbs into a plastic bag (a gallon ziploc works well for this). Add a handful of beef chunks; shake to coat. Shake to remove excess coating. Repeat until all meat is coated.
2. Heat olive oil in large pot or Dutch oven. Brown the meat in two or three batches; drain fat. In the same pot, sautee onion, garlic, and rosemary until onion starts to be translucent. Return meat to the pot; stir in broth and wine. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 hours.
3. Stir in boiling onions and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for a half hour, until veggies are tender.
4. Meanwhile, prepare polenta. In medium saucepan, bring milk just to a simmer. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, water, and salt. Stir slowly into hot milk; cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat; cook for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens. When polenta reaches desired thickness, stir in butter.
5. Just before serving stew, stir in the fresh rosemary (if using), parsley, and tomato paste. Serve with polenta.
If you're not a polenta person, this is also really good over mashed potatoes or with crusty bread. If you can't find boiling onions at the store, just chop up another regular onion and put it in with the carrots. It will taste same, but won't look quite as pretty.