It’s May in Queenstown, the last month of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, and things are looking decidedly Wintery. Snow is in the forecast and the view across the Lake backs up the Metservice forecast The normally commanding presence of Cecil Peak is barely visible through the sleety rain. It promises to be the first ground level snowfall of the year, which even for an old fella like me is still a little exciting. Most of us aren’t very well equipped to deal with snow if it settles on the roads, so there is always anticipation of a “Snow day” when snow is forecast to Lake levels. Will it dump a huge amount of snow and make it impossible for me to get to work on Monday? (probably not, 14 years in Queenstown and I’ve only had 1 snow day). It was quite a good dumping of snow – Here’s a picture
The thought of cold weather instantly brings about a need for comfort food – stews, roast meats and vegetables, warming pies, soups, breads and cheeses, that kind of stuff. So I started trolling around for a hearty slow cooked meal that ticked the Winter warmer meal box and found this delicious sounding recipe http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2014/02/06/philly-cheesesteak-stew/
I’ll take any excuse to put Steak on bread, and if you can add cheese you are on to a winner in my book, this Philly cheesesteak stew ticks all of the boxes. The original recipe calls for 4 Sourdough bread rolls to be hollowed out, filled with the stew, topped with the cheese, and then grilled under the broiler. This I think is the superior way to serve these for presentation purposes, but I couldn’t get my hands on the sourdough rolls, so I’ve used a sourdough loaf, which I’ll toast and top with the other components.
I’m not sure if my stew was thinner than the original, but I was left with quite a bit of liquid in the pot. It tasted great, so I strained it and used it as a dipping sauce …. Delicious
Philly Cheesesteak Stew
Ingredients – serves 4
2 pounds/1 Kilo beef top round (I used Rump)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or Sea Salt, plus extra
3/4 teaspoon Cracked black pepper, plus extra
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated onion, divided
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons canola, vegetable, or other neutral oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 onions, trimmed of both ends, halved, peeled, and cut into thin half moons
8-10 ounces white or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced (*See Notes)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
4 cups beef stock
4 sourdough bread bowls, centers cut out to within 3/4-inch of the bottom and sides and reserved for the crouton
4 slices provolone cheese
(I also added a splash or Worcestershire sauce when I added the beef stock)
Cut the beef round into very thin slices that are about 1/2 an inch by 2 inches. Spread them out on the cutting board, sprinkle with the salt, cracked black pepper,, 3/4 teaspoon of the granulated onion, and 2 of the tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Toss together with your hands to make sure all the beef is evenly coated.
In a large soup pot with a heavy-bottom, warm 1 1/2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium to medium high heat. Add the butter in and swirl to melt. Immediately scatter half of the beef (**See Notes) over the hot fat. Move it only enough to get more pieces in contact with the bottom of the pan. You’re not going to stir it at this point. Let it cook without disturbing it for 2 minutes. Use a sturdy spoon to stir it and flip the pieces to the best of your ability, cook for 1 more minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a heat safe bowl. Add the remaining oil and another tablespoon of butter as before and repeat the browning process with the rest of the beef. Transfer the cooked beef to the bowl and lightly tent with foil. Return the pan to the heat.
There should be a decent amount of fat still in the pan. If there isn’t, add another teaspoon of butter or oil and toss in the onions along with a pinch of salt and a pinch of cracked black pepper. Drop the heat to medium low and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Take care not to crisp or burn the onions. If you find they’re browning too quickly, lower the heat.
Stir in the mushrooms with one more pinch of salt and cook for 6 more minutes. Add in the dried thyme and garlic and stir well. When the garlic is fragrant, sprinkle the flour over the surface of the onions and mushrooms. Stir well. It should become very pasty. Raise the heat to medium and let the mixture cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour the beef broth in all at once, stirring constantly, until it is smooth. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
Let it boil for 2 minutes before adding in the cooked beef along with any accumulated juices and the remaining granulated onion. Drop the heat to LOW, once again, and simmer until the stew is thick and the beef is tender. Taste the stew and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Set your broiler for HIGH. Place the hollowed out bread bowls on a rimmed baking sheet. Butter the cut side of the caps of bread that you cut out of the bowls and set them next to the bowls on the baking sheet. Ladle the stew into the bowls, lay one slice of provolone cheese on top of each one, and place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in areas. Use a large, flat spatula to transfer the stew filled bowls to individual serving plates and serve each one with its toasted bread cap.