Mary Schoendienst shared a few recipes in “Cooking with the Cardinals,” and last night I made her beef stew recipe, which is described in the book as “Red’s Favorite Stew.” It was a big hit! My boyfriend went for seconds and thirds. The dogs were salivating for hours over the smell while it was cooking. I’m not really a big beef stew fan, but I did enjoy it.
Here’s the recipe.
3 lbs beef stew meat, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 red onions, sliced
6-8 ribs celery, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
6 large carrots, cut in 3/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 tbs sugar
3 tbs tapioca
2 cans (16 oz each) stewed tomatoes and 1 can water
1/2 cup red wine
Pepper and Accent to taste
Brown meat and place in bottom of deep casserole. Layer sliced onions, celery, and carrots on top of meat. Mix together sugar, tapioca, tomatoes, wine, pepper and Accent. Pour tomato mixture over meat and vegetables. Cover and bake for 4 hours at 300 degrees. Stir every hour. Serve over rice or buttered poppy seed noodles. Serves 6-8.
The only trick of this recipe was finding tapioca. I had to ask four staff members at Ralph’s before one of them consulted the longest-tenured cashier who directed him to it (next to the Jell-O pudding version of tapioca). I’ve never cooked with tapioca before but it comes in powdery crystal form and functions to thicken the sauce for this stew. Now I have a box of the stuff, since I only needed three tablespoons for this recipe. I guess there’s some pudding in my future.
Mary didn’t specify how big the casserole dish needed to be, and 9 x 13 is the biggest dish I had. After the stew was cooking for an hour, it started to bubble over and spill onto the bottom of the oven. When I opened the oven, a lot of smoke came out, and the smoke detector went off. I recovered from this setback by opening the windows and then transferring half of the stew into a smaller casserole dish.
Four hours is a long time to wait for dinner, but it was worth it. I imagine one could also prepare this stew in a crock pot and leave it cooking on low all day. The meat was very tender, and the sauce was rich. I’m pretty sure Red enjoyed this stew on a winter day in the offseason, because I certainly wouldn’t have had the energy to play or coach right after eating it.
Unfortunately, Mary passed away in 1999. Mary and Red were married for 48 years and had four children. Red visited Cardinals Spring Training this year even though he is 93 years old now. As a player, manager or coach, Red has worn a major league uniform for 71 seasons! Longevity powered by beef stew!