It began one stormy and windswept Halloween night.
I took my two kids out trick-or-treating and left a pot of beef stew on the stove, with instructions to my husband to stir it every now and then.
Trick-or-treating in such miserable weather turned out to be hard work, and it was pretty late by the time we got home.
I looked for the potatoes I’d added to the stew, and they were nowhere to be found. Turns out they’d gotten so soft that they simply dissolved as my husband stirred the long-simmering stew.
My kids declared it the best stew I’d ever made, once again proving that sometimes the best dishes are created by mistake.
Ever since then, beef stew thickened by mashed potatoes has been a favorite in our household.
Mashed Potato Beef Stew
Makes 4 to 5 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups peeled, sliced carrots
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, or herb mix of your choice
1 cup water
1 cup red wine (or water)
4 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 pound)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil. Dust the meat lightly with flour and add it to the oil in 2 or 3 batches, cooking it until lightly browned. Remove meat to a plate.
Add carrots, garlic and onions to the pot and cook over medium heat until onions are softened.
Add water and wine if using, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add meat back to pot, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low, partially cover, and cook for 1 hour, stirring 2 or 3 times and adding more water as necessary to keep stew from sticking.
Peel the potatoes and cut into bite-size chunks. Add to the stew and stir. Partially cover and cook over very low heat for an additional hour, stirring occasionally and adding a little more water if necessary to keep stew from sticking, or until meat is tender and potatoes are very soft. Use a large spoon to mash the potatoes into the stew.