I have never been a fan of beef stew. Never, ever, ever. Every year on our birthdays, my mom would let us pick our favourite meal. Every year my brother Tom always picked stew. I always thought he was wasting his choice, because to my mind beef stew was disgusting and shouldn’t been consumed on any day of the year, let alone your birthday. (My choice, if you’re wondering, was lasagna. Yum.)
Fast forward a few decades. Needless to say, my palate and food choices have become much wider. I’ve eaten things I would have never dreamed possible in suburban New Jersey in the 1980s. Since I got married, my husband, who likes stew, kept telling me I would like it. I’d look at the component parts in the recipe and figured I’d give it another go. Given that I didn’t mind the component parts, surely as an older and wiser woman I would like beef stew.
As I’ve tried a variety of recipes, both here on Cookbook A Month and on my own, the results have been mixed. While I certainly have moved away from the “I Hate All Beef Stew” opinion, it’s never a sure bet that I’ll like it.
I’ll spare you the suspense: I liked this one! It made the house smell nice on a cold February afternoon, it was from the long-and-slow school of cooking, which I love, and it was delicious. Kudos to the fine butchers at Dring’s who not only helped me pick out the correct beef, but also gave me the most excellent tip to make dumplings for the top, which were fantastic.
However– and there’s always a however to ruin the fun– while I liked it, the other two-thirds of my family did not. For this stew, you add some lemon peel for the slow cook. They thought the lemon taste was too overwhelming and didn’t fit in with beef stew. I disagreed, saying that it made the dish lighter and more interesting. Regardless, it was not a 100 percent success, so I don’t know if I’ll be making it again.