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Beef Stew with Dried Fruit

1 1/2 ts Vegetable oil
2 lb Beef chuck; cut into 1- inch cubes
2 lg Onions; coarsely chopped
1 qt Water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 lb Boiling potatoes
6 lg Carrots; peeled and cut into 1- inch chunks
4 oz Pitted prunes
6 oz Dried apricots
2 ts Ground ginger
1/3 c Brown sugar
1/3 c White vinegar
2 tb All- purpose flour
3 tb Chopped parsley


Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the meat in batches and brown lightly on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the onions and saute until deep brown, about 10 minutes; lower the ehat if they begin to turn too dark. Remove half the onions. Return the meat to the pan and add the water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1- 1/2 hours.


Peel the potatoes and cut each into 3 or 4 chunks. Add the potatoes, carrots, and remaining browned onions to the pan and push vegetables down into the liquid. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile put the prunes and apricots in a bowl, cover with hot water, and let stand for 30 minutes.


Add the ginger, brown sugar, and vinegar to the stew and stir gently. Remove the prunes and apricots from their liquid, reserving the liquid, and add the fruit to the pan. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes longer or until meat is very tender. Shake the pan occasionally; avoid stirring so ingredients do not break up.


Whisk the flour with 1/4 cup fruit-soaking liquid in a bowl. Gradually, stir in about 2 cups of cooking liquid from the pot, and return the mixture to the pan. Stir gently. Simmer about 5 minutes. Add half the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve from a deep serving dish., sprinkled with remaining parsley.


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