Troll Cave

The Care and Feeding of Barbarians

Due to an uncooperative camera, poor lighting, and batteries running out of juice, and a frazzled cook, there will only be a few photos accompanying this recipe. And unfortunately, this in not one of those “carved in stone” recipes, but one of those “wing-and-a-prayer, this is how I did it this time” recipes. Every time it’s made, it’s made slightly differently, and it’s assumed you will adjust things for your taste.

That said, here’s the ingredients:

12 lbs. meat
6 cans condensed beef broth
1 1/4 cups balsamic vinegar (actually, I wanted to use 2 cups, but I ran out)
3 tbl. oregano
2 tbl. basil
7 bay leaves
black pepper
5 stalks of celery
8 lbs. potatoes
6 onions
10-12 carrots
2 bags frozen peas (use ‘petite peas’, not those starchy, over-grown pasty things)
5 cups water
2 1/2 cups flour

Chop the meat up into ‘stew-sized’ pieces, and put in a big pot (mine is 3 gallons).

lotsa meat

Dump in the cans of condensed broth, the balsamic vinegar, and water. I think I used about one can of water for every can of broth, but I’m not 100% sure. The liquid should generously cover the meat. Chop and add the celery. Season the mix.

season the stew

Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer (gentle bubbling around the edges of the pot). Let simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile, prepare your potatoes. Some people like to peel them; I tend to prefer to just wash them. In either case, they need to be chopped up into stew sized pieces. (Though a note on un-peeled potatoes: if they are not thoroughly cooked, the peels can still taste “like dirt”. This off-taste disappears completely if the potatoes are cooked enough.) Add the potatoes to the pot 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you want to serve the stew. (The more stew you are making, the more time the potatoes will need to cook. So if you are significantly scaling down the recipe, you probably won’t need to cook them so long.) After you add the potatoes, again bring the pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.

Peel your carrots and chop your onions. Add them to the stew 15-20 minutes before you want to serve (10 minutes if you significantly scale back the recipe). I think this recipe doesn’t have enough carrots, but I like carrots. Most barbarians about don’t like them. So I put in this many, and then tell everyone at the table that if anyone doesn’t want their carrots to give them to me. This works out well; most everyone else winds up with less and I get as much as I want. But if you like carrots, you’ll want to scale up the carrot proportion. The timing for adding these carrots means they are done at “crisp-tender”–not crunchy like a raw carrot, but still with a good bite. If you like softer carrots, add them sooner.

Right before you thicken the stew, add the peas. They don’t need to be cooked, just defrosted. You’ll know the stew is “done” by how cooked the potatoes are: they should no longer have sharp, defined corners from being chopped. They should be soft enough they are just beginning to round and smooth their edges.

Lastly, you’ll need to thicken the stew with a flour and water mixture. I needed more pot space as soon as I started adding potatoes, so I split my stew up between my 3 gallon pot and my 2 gallon pot. I use 1/2 cup flour to 1 cup of water–3 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of flour to one pot, and 2 cups of water and 1 cup of flour to the other pot. Whisk your cold water and flour together, until there is no lumps, and then add to the hot stew. Stir until thick and hot.

lotsa stew

Close up, it looks even better.


Serve with fresh, homemade bread.

sliced bread

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