Cool nights call for a warming, satisfying stew. Top this one with the salty blue cheese and walnut croutons, breaking them up into the stew as you eat.
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Season the beef with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and then toss in a large bowl with 2 Tbs. of the flour. Heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and the oil in a 5-1/2- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook half of the beef until browned on several sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.
Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in the pot. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until evaporated, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 Tbs. flour and cook for 1 minute.
Whisk in 5 cups of the broth. Stir in the barley, bay leaves, sage, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the beef along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot snugly with foil and then a tight-fitting lid and braise in the oven until the beef is almost tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the squash and the remaining 1 cup broth. Cover with the foil and lid and continue braising until the beef and squash are very tender, about 30 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves from the stew, and then stir in the parsley and half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep hot.
In a small bowl, combine the softened 1-1/2 Tbs. butter with the blue cheese, walnuts, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Spread the mixture evenly onto the baguette slices. Transfer to a baking sheet.
Position a rack about 8 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. Broil the croutons until deep golden-brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the stew with the croutons.
Serve with Arugula, Carrot & Celery Root Salad with Almonds and rustic bread for sopping up the stew.
4 stars assumes the use of the croutons broken up into the stew, as that would give it more flavor. Eaten without, as so many reviewers have done, it is pretty bland. I prefer a recipe that uses tomatoes and a little miso to give it flavor. I did add fresh shitakes, but they got lost.
Very good! Made pretty close to recipe. Didn't have fresh parsley and sage so used dried. Also used half chicken and half beef broth. My husband won't eat walnuts so used pecans for the toast which I loved! Great accent to the stew!! Oh ya! Totally forgot the cream! Next time I would try, although I didn't feel like the stew was lacking!
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