Meal-Prepping 101: Beef Stew

Beef (or any meat) Stew

On February 16, 2017 at Quest Community Church, Westerville, Ohio, we will once again be joining together to work on our meal-prepping skills.  The second recipe for this class is a traditional Beef Stew (The first recipe, is Cranberry Chicken posted on 2/11/17 on this site).  Stew is a traditional standby in the Rice Household.  It is perfect for meal-prep as a freezer meal before and after being cooked.  If you enjoy canning, it can also be prepped in individual and family servings by using a PRESSURE CANNER (please see the post on this site for Turkey/Chicken Stew, under the canning and preserving page).  But I digress.  The nice thing about stew is that it can be made with pretty much anything you have on hand as well as tweaks here and there for what you like and what you don’t like.  Example: Some people my love parsnips, others may not, some people think you are weird putting in peas in a stew, some say oh that’s a must have.  My Grandma and Mom would refer to their stews as “refrigerator stew”, that meant anything left over from previous meals got thrown in a pot and cooked as soup/stew.  In short the “waste not want not” method of country cooking.

For our class on 2/16/17, I will be outlining the meal prep freezer way to put up stew before cooking, although here and there I will also outline other methods.  Ready?  Here we go!

Ingredients for each meal:

  • 1 lb of meat (beef, venison, pork, turkey, chicken…)
  • 1 1/4 cups diced onion (I prefer red onion but its your preference)
  • 2 tsps. (or 4 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Thyme
  • 1 cup of carrots diced/sliced (I like lots of carrots, so about 5 carrots sliced)
  • 2 cups of diced/sliced celery
  • 1/2 cups of frozen peas (do not get canned, they get squishy)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of APPLE CIDER Vinegar

Ingredients to be added the day of cooking:

  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups of Broth (to match the meat you use)

Freezer Containers needed if freezing:

  • 1 quart freezer bag
  • 1 gallon freezer bag
  • Pen to write contents and cooking additions for day of cooking

BEFORE CLASS DIRECTIONS:

  • Label you large gallon freezer bag with the title of your recipe and date prepared:
    • example:  Beef Stew 2/16/17
  • Keep your quart freezer bag with your large gallon freezer bag.
  • Since we will be working with raw meat, please, make sure you keep your product fresh and sealed and COOL in transport to and from class and put in the freezer as soon as you return from class.  You also may want to prepare the meat and keep in your refrigerator at home and then add to your bag once you return from class.
  • Cube your meat into small pieces.  I will be using venison for my stew.
  • Make sure you trim off any grisly or large fat portions (and skin if poultry).
  • Put in your quart freezer bag and press out any air and keep cool.

Class Instructions:

  • If you brought the meat with you, keep cold in your cooler while we prep the rest of the items.
  • Chop all of your vegetables starting with your onion.  Add each to your gallon bag after you finish with them.
    • Side note here:  I also like to add things like parsnips, sweet potatoes, fresh beets, peppers, potatoes, spinach and frozen lima beans or black eyed peas.  I’ve even been known to throw in butternut squash cubes.
  • Add in your frozen peas (or other frozen veggies) to your bag.
  • Your bag is getting full now. Carefully add all of her herbs and shake so it flakes down over your veggies.
  • Add in your tomato paste and “squish” it through the bag.
  • Add in your Apple Cider Vinegar to your meat.
  • Now, we need to add our meat.  Since we have all these wonderful veggies in here, we do NOT want to taint them with raw meats!!!   Very carefully, put your meat in its bag sealed, in the large gallon bag on top of the veggies.  Meat is in the bag, but not touching your veggies.  If you cook your meats ahead of time, you can add them directly in the bag, however, your meat will be very shredded when you cook the stew (which is fine, its a texture thing).

NIGHT BEFORE COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Take out of the freezer and stand upright and thaw over night IN the refrigerator.

DAY OF COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Very carefully open your gallon bag and retrieve the meat bag.
  • Open the meat bag and dump the contents in the crock pot.
  • Dump the veggie/seasoning contents over the meat in the crockpot.
  • Add in your 2 cups of broth (to match the meat) to the crock pot.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • Add your salt and pepper before serving to retain flavor and not needing to re-add.

FREEZING AFTER COOKING:

Stews and soups are great for freezing left overs for other meal preps.  Put in a large gallon bag or in individual sized freezer safe containers and place level in your freezer.  You can reheat later in the microwave or stove top quickly because everything is already cooked.

CANNING AFTER COOKING:

I enjoy canning left over soups and stews in half pint jars individual servings that I can grab and go for work or for a quick lunch and dinner.  ALL SOUP and STEWS must be PRESSURE CANNED.  The rule of thumb is the amount of time for the longest pressure cooking standard ingredient.  Example:  Meat and beans must be canned (half pint or pint) for 75 minutes and quarts need to be canned for 90 minutes at a pressure of 11 lbs.  If you are unfamiliar with a pressure canner don’t make soup your trial run.

I look forward to seeing you all in class and for those who can not attend, I hope you enjoy this recipe, and let me know what you think.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Rice

 

 

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