“Entertaining is not about perfection; it is about connection.”
Gathered round a table with friends is a favorite way to spend an evening, but spending all day in the kitchen is not a favorite thing. To avoid this I do two things: find a recipe for or create a reasonably easy to make dish that has a lot of visual punch and tastes good and when guests ask if they can bring something I say yes. Most people don’t mind because they feel more connected if they contribute and less guilty about accepting an invitation to dinner than if I did all the work. Plus, next time a guest issues an invitation, they know they can ask me to bring something!
Now that the weather is much cooler, food thoughts turn to heartier comfort food such as this dish featuring beef stew served in an acorn squash which gives the stew a slightly different twist, and the flavors complement each other beautifully. You can use your favorite beef stew recipe, or if you don’t have a favorite, try this one.
5 T. olive oil, divided
salt and ground pepper to taste
2 lbs. beef for stew cut into 1″ pieces
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 c. cubed new potatoes
1/2 large green pepper, seeded and diced
1 T. minced garlic
1 c. red wine
1 bay leaf plus aromatic herbs to taste
3 c. beef broth
3 large acorn squash, halved
1/2 c. pearl onions
1/2 c. peas or sugar snap peas
Place 2 T. olive oil, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper in a large bowl; add stew meet and toss to coat.
Heat about 1 T. olive oil in large skillet or stew pot. Add beef and brown, adding more oil if necessary. Reserve browned meat and juices in a bowl.
Add onion, celery, carrot, green pepper and garlic to pan; cook, stirring on high heat for one minute. Reduce heat to low; continue cooking another minute. Increase heat to high and add red wine, allowing it to reduce to a glaze in the bottom of the pan. Return beef to pan along with bay leaf and herbs. Add broth and potato cubes; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about one hour or until beef is tender. (If you prefer to cook potatoes separately and add at the last minute, that’s OK.)
While stew is simmering, halve squash and scoop out pulp and seeds. Place face down in jelly roll pan and surround with water. Steam in 375 oven until tender, about 45 minutes.
Add peas to stew and cook for about 5 more minutes. Adjust seasonings. Spoon into baked squash halves.
This is lovely on the plate and the squash adds a twist to the presentation. Serve with cornbread or spoonbread and a simple green salad with apples or pears, glazed pecans and blue or Roquefort cheese. Waldorf saldad is also a nice accompaniment.
For other tasty recipes, check out Foodie Friday.
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