Beef Stew with Bacon and Butternut Squash
Beef Stew with Bacon and Butternut Squash
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  • 3 pounds beef chuck
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 6 slices good quality, lean, smoky bacon, chopped 1-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, chopped, divided
  • 2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped, divided
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bottle hard cider (12-ounces) or 1 cup sweet vermouth
  • 2 fat strips orange rind
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • A little freshly grated nutmeg
  • About 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • About 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • Warm crusty bread and butter, to pass at table

Bring meat to room temperature and pat dry. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Just before cooking, season with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 325°F.

Heat oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and stir until crisp; remove to a plate. Cook meat in batches, caramelizing on all sides. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining meat, adding additional oil if necessary.

To meat drippings, add 1 chopped carrot, celery, onion, sliced garlic, marjoram, half the thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Partially cover pot and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, then stir in hard cider or vermouth and a few fat strips of orange rind; deglaze and reduce liquid by half. Add stock then slide meat and bacon back into the pot, bring to bubble, cover and transfer to oven. Roast 2 1/2 hours. Remove the stew and let it stand, covered, while you roast squash.

Raise heat to 425°F. Coat squash with oil and toss with remaining thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Roast 30-35 minutes, turning once, until brown at edges.

Once the squash is done, remove bay leaf and orange rind from the stew. Skim fat with a spoon or paper towels.

Place meat in a large shallow bowl or serving dish and stir honey and mustard into sauce. Stir in squash and serve in bowls. Pass crusty bread at table for mopping.

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