Every day of our glorious two week vacation to Italy was gleeful. I won’t lie and say I missed home, because for the most part I loved every minute of my gelato-licking, wine-sipping, pasta-slurping trip. But I did miss my own kitchen, cooking homemade meals, and fresh fruits and vegetables. I especially missed the smell of garlic and onions simmering in olive oil. So the first thing I did when I got back home was to start cooking.
The rather fantastic timing of this vacation meant that I left in the summer and returned just at the beginning of fall. While I was enjoying vacation, fall is the season that calls me home and to the kitchen more than any other. I was so excited to start cooking heartier meals- stews, soups and, of course, all sorts of winter squash.
This recipe is a good transition meal for fall from summer, from vacation to home. It doesn’t need to simmer away all day, just 20 minutes to thicken the fresh tomato sauce. Still in season fresh tomatoes and herbs of summer are starred here and it felt exactly like the warm, comfy hug-in-a-bowl I craved returning home.
I used skirt steak for this recipe, because its meaty and rich but doesn’t need to cook for hours. The amount of parsley may seem excessive but it pairs so perfectly with beef, just think of chimichurri sauce. I paired this stew with potatoes because that is what I had on hand but it could go with polenta or over egg noodles.
Quick Tomato and Parsley Beef Stew
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 – 1.5 lb skirt steak, trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup diced shallots
3 garlic cloves
3-4 tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Mashed Rutabaga Potatoes
1.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, halved
1 large rutabaga, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup half and half (or whole milk)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Special Equipment Needed: None
Dry the beef with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper all over. Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a wide, shallow pan until the oil is hot and the butter is foaming. Add steak in a single layer to brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove meat to a plate, set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add the shallot and garlic to the pan. Sweat until softened 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the tomatoes cook down into the sauce. Add the steak back to the pan and continue to cook 3-5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Salt to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes, polenta or noodles.
For the potatoes: Boil potatoes and rutabaga together starting in cold water for 15 minutes or until the potatoes can be easily stabbed with a fork. The rutabaga must be cut smaller than the potatoes to cook in the same amount of time. Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pot to dry briefly, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the milk and butter and mash with a potato masher or fork. The rutabaga can be eliminated entirely or replaced with 1/2 lb of potatoes but it does add a nice texture contrast in the mash.