Sauteing Tips for Foods and Beef Stew Recipe

Beef Stew

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Alice Henneman, MS, RDN, UNL Extension in Lancaster County
Questions or comments? Contact Alice Henneman, author

(Includes recipe for Beef Stew with Vegetable "Gravy")

Sautéing is quick heating, in a small amount of fat for foods to be served right away. For the best color and flavor, follow these tips:

  1. Cut food items the same size to ensure even cooking.
  2. Preheat pan over medium to medium-high heat or as specified in the recipe and/or the directions that came with your pan. Check manufacturer's directions for recommended heats to use with your pans. For example, one brand recommends not going above medium heat; higher heats may cause discoloration of this brand of pan.
  3. Add a small amount of oil to your hot pan. Choose oil with a high smoke point - for example, canola, corn, safflower, soybean or peanut oil. (NOTE: Peanut oil can be a concern if family members or guests have peanut allergies.)
  4. Rippling should be visible on the surface when the oil is hot.
  5. If you want a food such as meat to brown, pat it dry — if needed — with a paper towel.
  6. Leave some space — about an inch — between pieces of food. If you leave too much space, the oil may burn. If you leave too little space, as moisture comes out of food, the temperature of the pan drops, moisture is trapped and the food is steamed rather than browned.
  7. Food should release easily from the pan when it has browned enough.
  8. Choose pan size accordingly — an 8- to 10-inch pan may be sufficient when cooking for one or two. A 12-inch pan may be needed when cooking for more or cooking larger amounts.
  9. If a deep, rich brown color is desired for meat, a regular pan rather than a nonstick pan, may work better.
  10. If you need to sauté food in batches, keep food warm by holding it — uncovered — in a 200 degree F oven.

Beef Stew with Vegetable "Gravy"

Makes 6 servings

IMPORTANT:Read recipe, including Alice's Tips, before starting to prepare stew.

This soup looks like it has a rich gravy, but it's really nutrient-rich pureed vegetables!

  • 1 pound lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups low fat, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 medium onion OR 2 tablespoons dried, minced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped OR 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, if desired
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 1 pound carrots

1. Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add meat and sauté until browned on all sides.

2. Add beef broth, onion, garlic, thyme, pepper and if desired, salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour until meat is tender.

3. While the meat is cooking, wash, peel and cut the carrots and potatoes into 1-inch chunks.

4. When meat is tender, add the cubed vegetables. Bring mixture to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 20 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.

5. Remove about half the vegetables (but no meat) with a slotted spoon and puree in a blender until smooth. Add broth from the stew, if needed, to aid in pureeing the vegetables.

6. Return pureed vegetables to the stew and stir to combine. If needed, thin broth with water or beef broth.

Alice's Tips:

  • Cooking Light magazine (March 2003) warns when blending hot liquids to .... use caution because steam can increase the pressure inside the blender and blow the lid off. They advise filling the blender no more than half full and blending in batches, if necessary. And, while blending, hold a potholder or towel over the lid.
  • Round red potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes hold their shape well when cooked in a stew.
  • A pound of carrots and a pound of potatoes EACH are equal to about 3 cups of cubed/diced vegetables.
  • An easy way to temporarily prevent peeled potatoes from darkening is to immerse the WHOLE peeled potato in cold water. Cut the potatoes into pieces just before you add them to the stew.
  • If you have extra beef broth that wasn't needed to make the stew, try using it as part of the liquid when making rice. Plan to use extra broth for a meal within a day or two after opening the container. Or, freeze broth in ice cube trays for later use; transfer to a freezer bag after broth is frozen. For directions on cooking with brown rice, visit fnh/cooking-brown-rice
  • Transfer any leftover stew to shallow containers to speed cooling; keep perishable foods (such as this stew) at room temperature no longer than a TOTAL of 2 hours. You can place loosely covered foods in the refrigerator while still warm; cover when the food is completely cooled. Plan to eat leftovers within 2 days or freeze for longer storage.