Monday, February 29, 2016

Braised Beef with Carmelized Onions

This recipe is so awesome! But I'm going to make you wait for it while we look at some scenery.

Winter is leaving the Black Hills, and my husband and I just can't stay home on the weekends. I mean, really, could you?

A few weeks ago we went on a drive through the beautiful Spearfish Canyon. And yes, there was still snow on the ground, but the creek was flowing. :) And the canyon was as lovely as ever.

And then last week, we went for one of our bi-weekly hikes. The idea is to add a mile to our distance each month. Last Saturday's hike was four miles along the Creekside Trail in Custer State Park.

This trail is paved (no spring mud!) and connects two campgrounds, passing stores, picnic areas and a lake in its two mile length.

Grace Coolidge Creek

It's a beautiful trail, but we know from experience that it is super crowded during the tourist season. February is the perfect month to hike this one.

And we were even greeted by a small herd of young big horn sheep at our turn-around point half-way through.

The trail also passes the State Game Lodge.

This beautiful place was built in 1920, and was the "Summer White House" for President Calvin Coolidge. Later on it became a hotel and is a much-sought-after lodging for park visitors. If you want to stay in the older part of the building, make your reservations well in advance!

And of course we stopped to say "hey" to the Boys on the Hill on our way home!

This past weekend we went back to Custer State Park for a drive through the wildlife loop. This is an eighteen-mile scenic drive through prairies and forested hills. We almost always see plenty of bison on this drive, along with antelope, deer, prairie name it!

Last year's calves are growing up - a sure sign of spring - but look what's happening to their mothers!

This lady was waddling along the road. Yes, waddling. The new calves start dropping in April!

And then this is also happening to the bison - 

Yes, this older cow has that protruding tummy, too. But look at her coat! The bison are beginning to shed. Can spring be far behind?

On the way home we drove through Wind Cave National Park. We don't go there as often as we like because it makes the drive a bit farther. But it was beautiful in the early spring sunshine.

We were hoping to see some elk, so we ventured along this trail.

No elk, but we could tell they had been there. Their tracks look like a deer's foot print, but a lot bigger!

After three weekends in a row, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. :)

Now to the recipe!

Another sign that spring is coming is that this year's beef is ordered and will be coming in the next few weeks. What does that mean?

We need to clear out last year's beef!

If you're a beef lover, this looks like heaven, doesn't it? That's about two pounds of meat - a combination of round steak and ribeye. You can make this dish with any cut of steak because you're going to be cooking it to melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!

I do have to warn you, though - this is not a fast meal to cook. The prep time took longer than I thought it would, mostly because of browning the beef in batches. Leave yourself plenty of time.

Braised Beef with Carmelized Onions
serves four
prep time: about 1 hour
cooking time: about 1 1/2 hours


2 pounds beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon oil - I use coconut oil
1 large sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
1 Tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup flour
4 cups beef broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 slices french bread, 1 inch thick
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Sprinkle the beef cubes with the pepper. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan (I used my deep cast iron skillet), and brown the beef in small batches. Drain and keep in reserve.

In the same skillet, cook the onions in the butter over medium-low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

Preheat your oven to 325°.

Stir the flour into the onion mixture until it's blended. Then add the beef broth, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until the gravy is smooth. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for about a minute, or until it's thickened.

Add the browned beef to the gravy and stir in.

If you're not using cast iron, pour the mixture into a 9"x9" baking dish and cover with foil. If you are using your deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, you're all set. Just put the lid on!

Bake, covered, for 1 hour.

After an hour, carefully remove the bay leaf and stir in the cream.

Bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes.

Butter the slices of bread on one side and place butter side up on top of the beef mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and garlic powder.

Put the pan back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly browned.

Serve with a large spoon, and make sure that the beef and onions are topped with a slice of bread for each person.


Have you seen any signs of spring where you live yet? Let us know!


  1. Oh, this looks amazing...... I've never thought of doing something like this, Jan, and right now I want to join you on your weekend jaunts because how stinkin' beautiful is that???

    Those sheep?????

    The pregnant bison?????

    Oh my stars, I'm in love!

  2. Oh, this looks amazing...... I've never thought of doing something like this, Jan, and right now I want to join you on your weekend jaunts because how stinkin' beautiful is that???

    Those sheep?????

    The pregnant bison?????

    Oh my stars, I'm in love!

    1. I forgot to say that the idea from this recipe came from a Taste of Home publication (don't they have the best recipes?), and I adjusted it to fit.

      As I was making it, I thought I should have added mushrooms. That would have made this mushroom lover happy, but the rest of the family wouldn't have enjoyed it so much.

      Hey! I could have had the whole casserole to myself!

      And it's too bad there's such a long distance between here and Upstate NY! Wouldn't we have fun roaming the Hills one weekend, and visiting the lakes and hills of the North Country the next?

      But until you visit, I'll drink in the sights around here for you. :)

  3. Jan, my mouth is watering. I must try this. Hubby will love the caramalized onions, we'll all love the beef.... It's a win-win.

    The pix are beautiful, too. George, Tom, Teddy and Abe haven't changed a bit.

    1. We had this dish last Thursday, and I'm still craving it! The flavors were just fabulous. The caramelized onions are what made it perfect, I think.

      And you can't go wrong with beef!

      I waved to the boys for you. :)

  4. Love the photos, Jan. We have been in that country and it is simply amazing. Love Custer State Park and all the wildlife. How marvelous that you were able to photo the Big Horn Sheep. Those were difficult for us to spot.

    And the beef looks divine. I've done the beef part before but hubby will love the addition of carmelized onions.

    1. I always keep my camera handy whenever we go into the Hills. You never know what's going to be just around the corner! And I love the zoom lens. I can take the pictures without worrying the animals too much.

      Yes, you'll have to try this recipe. It takes a while to cook, but it's so worth it!

  5. Oh wow! This looks delicious! And I enjoyed the photos. It's a gorgeous spring day here in GA! 66 degrees and I'm eating lunch outside. :)

    Jan, thanks for sharing a part of the world I've never seen!

    1. Someday we'll have to have a writer's retreat here in the Hills. Then you'd have a great excuse to visit!

      Enjoy your Georgia spring. I'm enjoying a beautiful snowfall today!

  6. This is a recipe for Cookie on Rawhide. Love it!!!

    1. So delicious! And now I'm REALLY hungry!

  7. Oh that looks delicious! I'm particularly partial to the cheesy garlic bread on top!

  8. So -- have tried to post multiple times but blogger keeps swallowing my words. :-) Short version -- majestic scenery, I'm in awe. I'll pass on the stew though I'm sure it's dogs on your ramblings?????