This is an article from NF Rebel Chef, Noel Fernando.
I don’t know about you, but where I am, winter is freakin’ here. If I have to wear gloves, a scarf, and a hat when I leave the house, I can see my breath, and there’s snow on the ground, that counts as winter, my friends.
Love it or hate it, winter is here (or on its way), and for a lot of people, wintertime is about food. In the northern hemisphere during winter, many holidays and family gatherings take place during the colder months.
For many people, the cold is completely de-motivating when it comes to getting moving and cooking and eating healthfully.
(Okay, this is also sometimes me.)
Well, my friends, it is time to fortify!
Jim gave you a workout to get you through the winter. Today we’re going to give you a healthy, hearty, warm-you-from-the-inside recipe you can make that’s pretty freaking easy. Level 1 winter recipe, activate!
Winter baked goods, watch out!
Let’s get to it!
Note: This recipe makes a LOT of food. If you can get this cooked, you’ll have an emergency stash of food in your freezer for when you ruin a meal, forget to buy groceries, or just ran out of time and are reaching for something unhealthy. You know it happens.
My crock pot is a 6-quart monster. If yours is smaller or you’re using a smaller stovetop soup pot, half the recipe.
The wonderful part about cooking in a crock pot is that you are basically gathering ingredients, putting them in a pot, and waiting for it to finish. The most labor intensive part of this whole recipe might be buying the 5-10 things you don’t have! If you don’t have a crock pot, don’t worry; I provided alternative instructions so you can make it right on your stove-top.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 – 4 hours (depending on method)
- 2 Tbsp (30ml) butter or other oil, divided – one for cooking meat and one for cooking onions (olive oil, ghee, lard, duck fat, etc. are acceptable here. Choose your favorite.)
- 1 lb(.45kg) stew meat – beef, pork, lamb, etc. Dealer’s choice. Season your meat with salt and pepper.
- 1 smoked kielbasa sausage (approx 14oz/.39kg), cut into 1/2 inch medallions – The sausage I bought was 14oz, which gives a good amount of hearty meatiness and smokey flavor to the stew. As always, check the label on the sausage for corn syrup and other undesirable ingredients.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 carrots, roughly sliced into medallions
- 2 sweet potatoes or turnips, roughly sliced (if using sweet potatoes, peel first!). I used one of each and cut them into quarters then cut each quarter into about 6 pieces.
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons
- 4 cups (.94L) beef stock – separate one cup out to add vinegar to it
- 1 1/4 cups (.30L) water
- 2 tbsp (30ml) vinegar – whatever you have on hand should be fine: red wine vinegar, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar are all good choices
- 2 tbsp (30ml) tomato paste
- 1 tbsp (30ml) Worcestershire sauce – Check the ingredients here. I managed to find one that didn’t contain sugar.
- 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) oregano
- 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) paprika
Equipment (each is linked to our recommendation on Amazon):
- Cutting board
- Cast iron skillet or pan
- Spoon or spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Large soup pot or slow cooker
- Prep your ingredients: toss your meat in a bowl and season your meat with salt and pepper.
Chop your onion, garlic, carrots, and cabbage.
Peel and chop your sweet potato. Slice the sausage.
Measure out your tomato paste and other spices, separate one cup of broth and add your 2 Tbsp of vinegar to it (you’ll be using this to deglaze the pan. Oh! You so fancy!).
- Now comes the part with fire! Heat up your skillet and toss 1 Tbsp butter into it. Let the butter melt.
Move the pan around to coat. For those of you with cast iron skillets, pay attention to how hot the handle is. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve burned myself on a cast iron skillet handle because it’s hot. Don’t be like me!
- Carefully place your seasoned meat in the skillet and let it brown, turning the meat once each side has browned.
You’ll want to cook the meat for only a few minutes – remember, we’re browning it, not cooking it through completely. Be careful not to crowd the skillet. If you need to, you might want to cook the meat in batches. Once the meat has browned, remove it from the skillet to a plate and set aside.
- Once all the meat is cooked and removed from the pan, add your chopped onions. Cook until translucent – about 3-5 minutes.
- Add garlic – cook for about 1 minute.
- Add tomato paste and mix around to coat onions and garlic. Heat through – this only takes about 1 minute.
- Add your 1 cup beef stock and 2 tablespoons of vinegar mixture to the pan. Stir the bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring gently but constantly to get all those tasty bits of meat and tomato paste that were stuck to the pan up and suspended in the liquid. If you stir too vigorously, you’ll splash the hot liquid everywhere, so be careful!
- Now we come to the choose your own adventure part. If you’re setting this stew to cook over night or while you’re at work, transfer all your ingredients to a slow cooker – the veggies, the meat, the meaty juice concoction you just made in the pan, the rest of the broth and water, and your spices and Worcestershire sauce. Set that baby for 4 hours on high and move on with your life.
Side Quest: Cooking on a Stovetop? If you’re cooking with friends, watching marathoning Netflix for a couple hours, having a 3 hour long dance off, or whatever it is that you do when you cook, again put all your ingredients in a big ol’ soup pot: the veggies, the meat, the meaty juice concoction you just made, broth and water, and all your spices.Stir it up a bit, cover the pot, put the heat on low, set a timer for 2 hours. Simmer until your veggies are cooked through and your meat is super duper tender. If the liquid gets too low while cooking, add more broth or water.If using the stovetop method, check on your stew every so often – every 30 minutes to 1 hour or so to stir. DON’T TAKE A NAP! That’s how you burn your house down, you animal.After 2 hours, check the meat to see if it’s tender, if it’s not, cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour. Keep on cookin’ till everything’s nice and tender.
- No matter what method you use, when the turnip or sweet potatoes are cooked through and the meat is melt in your mouth tender, you’re done! Serve yourself a big ol’ bowl of stew. If you’re paleo-ish and need more calories, you can feel free to serve this stew over some rice!
Boo yah! Stews and soups are super duper easy if you choose the set and forget method, but staying with it and cooking during the winter months can also be its own reward (especially if you are cooking with friends and family).
Plus, you get to smell what you are cooking for hours (depending on who you are, this might get you excited, or just turn you insanely ravenous). If you’re the latter, don’t set yourself up for failure (and too much snacking)! Leave the stew in a crock pot and come back later.
Stew is one of the easiest things to make in this nerd’s humble opinion: Chop up your ingredients, throw them in a pot with some liquid, and cook away. If you are new in the kitchen or simply strapped for time, your crock pot should be the sword you never do battle without.
This particular dish is super smokey, tomatoey, and a little vinegary. It’ll warm you from the inside out. If you’re a fan of cooking with alcohol, you can substitute that one cup of broth plus vinegar with a cup of dry red wine or beer (obviously not Paleo). Want it spicy? Use a spicy sausage and add a dash of cayenne pepper to the pot! Once you have a basic recipe, you can play around with all sorts of fun variations.
- What are some of your favorite easy winter dishes?
- How else are you fortifying now that winter is here?
- What healthy habits are you committing to keeping this winter?
Let us know in the comments!