Canning and food storage means I can make meals, like this quick beef stew, in half an hour that should take all day.
One of the best things about having home-preserved food storage is that I can often make a meal with almost no notice, including dishes that typically take hours. And that is without access to an electric pressure cooker (although they’re useful if you have one) or a microwave.
Spaghetti and meatballs?
I’ve got you covered.
Slow cooked chicken soup? Not a problem.
Beef Stew? Under half an hour and we’re eating potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables in a thick gravy with fork tender beef.
And that’s with dumplings.
The trick is that the processing time happened before, when we were canning beef for the pantry. Far less time than we would normally have taken to make stew and 18 pint jars (or 7 quart jars) of beef were put up and ready to turn into delicious meals like this.
The basic ingredients for a large pot of stew – and you really just dump them all in a pot together and warm them gently – are:
1 pint stewed beef
1 quart carrots
1 quart (or 4 cups cooked, cut up) potato
1 pint corn or whatever other vegetable you have/like
1 pint beef broth (or tomato juice or V-8 or even beer)
You might want more liquid than that, but try a pint first
If you want dumplings – 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons butter or lard, milk to make a dough
The basic idea behind stew is this:
Stew: meat that has been cooked in its own juices and tenderized + lots of vegetables + some sort of tasty liquid + spices
That’s all there is to it.
Don’t overthink this stuff.
If the meat and vegetables have been pressure canned, 99% of the cooking has already been done. This – your home canned meat – is a fabulous way to use the delicious garlic scapes you harvested from your growing garlic.
Dump all of the stew ingredients (beef, carrots, potato, other vegetables, broth) in a big pot and put it on medium-high heat. You’re going to want to stir gently – everything is tender and your meat will fall apart if you’re too vigorous in your stirring.
Add spices if you have/like them.
Italian Seasoning is easy and tasty.
Thyme is good, as is rosemary and garlic.
Taste it to see if it needs salt or pepper.
Potatoes are optional – the stew meat, gravy and vegetables are just as good served over a baked potato or mashed potatoes, with fries, or alongside thick pieces of homemade bread.
Do you want to add dumplings? It’s so easy!
As it heats up, get out a bowl and mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Use a pastry cutter or two knifes to cut in 2 tablespoons lard or butter.
Stir in milk (fresh or canned) until you get a soft batter, kind of like pancake batter.
Drop the batter by tablespoons on top of the stew and then put the lid on. You’ll want the stew to be piping hot but not boiling. Cook for ten minutes, remove the lid and cook another ten minutes or until the dumplings are firm.
If you have made too much batter, it can be cooked in two batches. My family goes crazy over dumplings, so I double the amounts. If you do, though, you’ll want to add more broth. As the dumplings cook, they thicken the broth and soak up a lot of it.
Sprinkle flour on your face before serving this, and smile because you did all of the hard work when you canned your meat and vegetables.