Butternut beef stew

One of my absolute favorite recipes of all time. I first discovered this in Georgeanne Brennan’s 1998 cookbook Holiday Pumpkins. Her books are a great resource for home gardeners and anyone with an interest in herbs or French food. This recipe caught my eye because it’s such an unusual combination of squash, poblano and pomegranate. It’s so incredible that I’ve been making it every fall for 15 years or more.

Over the years, I’ve made a lot of variations. I’ve even used faux beef during my vegetarian periods. Yes, you read that right. I’ve also tried a dozen different squashes and peppers. I’ve settled on my own simplified version, which I’ll share with you here, but here’s a link to the original.

First off, I’ve been the happiest when I use butternut squash, the original calls for pumpkin. I stick to poblano chiles over canned green chiles, which I’ve used as a short cut. Real beef is better to me than faux beef, but if you’re veg, don’t let that stop you, it’s still good with the faux stuff. I like to have pomegranate to top it, but rather than juicing pomegranates, I use pomegranate molasses to flavor the broth.

The recipe has a lot of components. I find that you can do several things ahead even by a day if you want, including roasting the squash and/or peppers or taking your pomegranate apart. You can also buy the squash already cubed or just the pomegranate arils. You can also vary the amounts of squash or beef or halve the recipe.

Beef butternut stew:

  • 8 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 1 pomegranate for garnish
  • 2.5 pounds cubed stew beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Pinch of spicy red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Broth
  • 1/8 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons butter

When I make this all at once, the first thing I do is preheat the oven to 425 and pop the peppers in cast iron. I don’t have a gas stove, so I roast them whole this way. It takes 20-30 minutes and I flip them every ten. After the peppers blacken a bit and soften (use your own judgement on time for that) set them aside to cool and leave the oven on for your squash.

While your peppers are roasting, peel and cube your butternut. This can be rather tedious, but you do get a lot of squash for your money and it’s fresher. Salt and roast the squash for 20 minutes or so at 425. This won’t completely cook it, but it will finish up in the stew later. If you are taking apart a pomegranate, work on this while your squash is cooking and set the arils aside.

Dice up the onion and garlic and sauté them in two tablespoons of butter. Add the cubed beef and brown for 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the flour, spices and salt. Add 2-3 cups cups broth and let simmer one hour.

Meanwhile de-seed the peppers and chop them up.

Add butternut and poblanos to the beef, and one tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. Simmer for one more hour and serve topped with pomegranate arils.

I had some cilantro to use up so I garnished with that as well and it was a nice add. The flavor of this stew is just wonderful. This made about 6-8 large servings. Normally, I would eat the leftovers for lunch all week, but I’m going to try freezing it since it won’t be a normal week with the holidays.

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