Beef and Root Vegetable Stew with Best Ever Mashed Potatoes

I tend to write a lot about my husband on here. I can’t help it. He’s such a part of the magic that happens in the kitchen. When we started dating, I was just learning how to really cook and appreciate good food. He’d grown up eating foods I’d never heard of or would have dared to try. I still didn’t like vegetables all that much–especially anything leafy and green.

Last March, at my mom’s wedding
in 2006, best man at his best friend’s wedding

In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, this post is for my husband, who LOVED this stew so much he said it should be on the menu of our favorite local restaurant.  (I’ll take that compliment!)

He still married me and our journey really took off. I remember (and have pictures of) him making homemade pickled onions and eggs in his bathrobe, in the tiny kitchen of our 3rd floor apartment. (No, I still won’t eat either of those two things.)

There were first attempts on my part to make Brazilian and German foods he grew up eating. We spent time at Asian, Caribbean, Italian, Brazilian, Latin, and other markets, bringing home new foods to try out together.  We had the best time and still do.

People in our families say we’re the perfect marriage between someone who loves to cook and someone who really appreciates good food.

We’ll celebrate our tenth anniversary this year. I’ve never grown tired of sharing food adventures with my husband. (I’m working on having him join me for a few guest posts.)

He was out last week with his college roommates–his cousin and their dear friend–and I was at home making him beef stew. He’s getting better about trying my vegan, gluten-free experiments, but every so often he needs and wants a meal like this.  I could barely contain my excitement over the stew.  I could not wait for him to get home and have some.

I wanted to surprise him with a fancy dinner–kind of a good end to a perfect day out with the guys. There was homemade cream of mushroom soup with homemade artisan bread (recipes this week), followed by the stew, and Minted Grapefruit Sorbet for dessert.

He smiled as he said over and over, “Oh my gosh…this is SO good! I wish it wasn’t wasted on me. We should have had someone come over to show this off. It’s amazing!”

I smiled.  Mission accomplished.

This would be just as good with mushrooms instead of meat and vegetable broth, for a vegetarian version. Or even with chicken.

One thing though–don’t skip the mashed potatoes. I grew up eating stew with potatoes in it, but my husband’s Aunt Robin always serves hers over mashed potatoes.  These mashed potatoes are incredible.  I improved (I think) on the recipe I posted at Make and Takes in November.

Beef and Root Vegetable Stew


For beef stew:
1 lb. beef stew meat
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper (a few good shakes)
1 Tbsp. butter
2 cups beef broth (or bouillion paste mixed with water)
1 onion, diced
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2″ wedges
2 small turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2″ wedges
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 sprig fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

For mashed potatoes
2 1/2 lbs. potatoes (I used 1/4 lb. of rutabaga for some)
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. salt


For stew:
Toss stew meat with flour, garlic powder and salt and pepper.  Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Add onions and cook for a few minutes.  Add beef cubes.  Cook until browned, being careful not to let it burn.  Add the beef broth and scrape up any bits on the bottom.  Add the vegetables and herbs.  Transfer to a 3 quart dutch oven or enameled baking dish.  Cover and cook at 350 degrees F for about 2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Serve warm over mashed potatoes.

For mashed potatoes:
Peel and cube the potatoes. If using rutabaga, start by cooking it first in salted water until almost tender. Drain off the water, add the cubed potatoes and cover with evaporated milk, add salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes on a low simmer, or until potatoes are tender. Drain off and reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or with an immersion blender. Add in the reserved milk, if needed, for the desired texture/consistency.

Serve warm. Makes enough for about 6-8 good-sized servings.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweetheart and to all of you!  And Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law today!

What are you doing for dinner tomorrow?  Dinner at home or a night out?

p.s. Don’t forget to enter the Bloomers Shoppe giveaway!  I extended it through tonight. :)

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