I am still finding bits of wrapping paper on the carpet and the excitement of new lip gloss and cozy socks is still fresh. Sure, the 25th has come and gone, but I am not quite ready to bid farewell to the coziness of Christmas.
We can have green smoothies and salads come January, but right now I want to eat something as warm and comforting as my sparkly slippers.
But coziness was only part of the inspiration behind this recipe. Essentially, I just wanted an excuse to eat these potatoes as a meal. I ladled some beef stew on top and solved all the world's problems. Easy as that.
I will spare you my manifesto on how and why these are the best mashed potatoes in the universe, but trust me, they are.
The flavors here are so rich and hearty. This beef stew is very simple, letting the flavors of simmered wine, mushrooms, and tender beef hold center stage. You could throw in some carrots if you are feeling it, or you could serve alongside a tossed green salad. I would opt for the salad since I like to break up the heaviness a bit.
This is just the kind of meal I want to eat on snow days when the sun sets early and you can stare at the falling flakes under the glow of the porch light.
Historically, January is a bit of a drag for me, but I have my armor on this year. Post-Christmas blues will not be touching me. It is time for joy, no matter if the stores are playing carols or not.
One way I plan to dodge the melancholy is by intentionally making these coming non-holiday weeks special.
A hearty dinner in front of the fire is a good place to start.
Now, the only question that remains is, will you stir this all up together or carefully spoon a bit of mashed potatoes and a bit of stew onto each bite? Mr. Pedantic is a stirrer, but I try to keep my dinner as separate and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Let's be cozy this week.
BROWN BUTTER MASHED POTATOES WITH BEEF & MUSHROOM STEW
for the stew
- 1 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stem
- 1/3 cup dry, red wine
- 4 cups beef stock
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, optional*
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
*Cook's Note: Sometimes I want a sweeter stew and sometimes I absolutely hate the idea. I'm fickle like that. The inclusion of brown sugar is entirely up to personal preference!
Pat the stew meat with several paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large zip-top bag and add the stew meat. Shake to coat.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of a 4-quart saucepan set over medium high heat. Add half of the coated beef and brown, turning the pieces as you go, so that all sides are evenly cooked. Transfer the browned beef to a plate, and brown the remaining beef in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Leave all of the beef on the plate and set aside for now.
Reduce heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of butter, mushrooms and thyme to the pan. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, until they are evenly browned. Add red wine and use a spoon or spatula scrape any remaining brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Simmer and reduce for 2-3 minutes, then add the beef stock, Worcestershire, brown sugar (if using), and remaining butter.
Return the beef to the pan and bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes; until the beef is very tender.
Cook's Note: This is the perfect time to start preparing the mashed potatoes.
Serve over brown butter mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
for the potatoes
- 1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Place cubed potatoes in the bottom of a 6-quart pot and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the potatoes are soft; about 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are boiling, brown the butter. Place butter in a 10-inch skillet and melt over medium heat. Once the butter has melted it will begin to bubble and brown. Swirl the pan gently every minute or so to ensure even browning. Small brown bits will form at the bottom of the skillet and the fragrance will be nutty. Once the butter is amber in color, remove from heat. Use a spoon to skim the white bubbles off the top of the butter. Set aside.
Place the cooked potatoes in a large bowl and mash or mix with an electric mixer until very smooth.
Cook's Note: If you are using an electric mixer be very careful not to over-mix as this will result in gluey potatoes.
Beat in cream, pepper, nutmeg, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the browned butter. Serve immediately.
Cook's Note: Alternatively, you could make these potatoes a day in advance, refrigerate, and then reheat in a 300 degree oven.