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From Greg Atkinson

When folks made beef stew before World War II, all the ingredients were organic by default; agricultural chemicals were rare and expensive. Now, older folks complain that modern foods don’t have the flavor of the stuff they remember from childhood. It’s important when selecting the vegetables for this stew to choose the darkest, most colorful carrots and sweetest peas. Organic ingredients are your best bet.

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 pound naturally raised stew beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups peeled and sliced organic carrots
2 cups sliced organic celery
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 cups organic beef broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound organic red potatoes
2 cups (about 4 ounces) sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups frozen organic sweet peas
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1. Put the olive oil and butter in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat and stir until the butter is melted and sizzling hot. Stir in the flour and continue stirring as the mixture foams up. Keep stirring the roux over medium-high heat until the foam subsides and the mixture is uniformly nut-brown colored. This will take about 15 minutes.

2. Stir the beef into the roux and cook, stirring regularly, until the beef is browned on every side, about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, and onion and cook for 1 or 2 minutes longer to heat the vegetables through. Stir in the beef broth and the garlic and cook the stew over medium heat, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking, for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Wash and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and stir them into the stew. Continue cooking until the potatoes and beef are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into the stew.

4. When the mushrooms have taken up enough of the broth to sink into the stew, turn off the heat and stir in the peas and parsley. As soon as the peas are heated through, the stew is ready to serve.

[For biscuit crusted stew, make biscuit dough and fit it over the stew in individual ovenproof bowls. Bake them on a tray in a 400°F oven about 30 minutes or until toppings browned.

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