Cowboy Beef Stew (with Coffee)

It's apparently an old chuck-wagon trick, to add a bit of coffee to a beef stew to make a richer broth. At least I've read about it in old Westerns and seen it in some old cookbooks. The stew was fantastic! You couldn't taste the coffee at all, which I'd always wondered about, and the broth was quite good.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon so the oil stays in the pot and add the onions and cook 5 minutes or so, stirring often until soft. You may need to turn down the heat for this.

Put the beef back in the pot and add the coffee, red wine or broth, thyme, and bay leaf. Note: if you're really tight on money, use water instead of wine or broth.

Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour or so. Peel and dice the potatoes and add them, the carrots, the celery, and the peas. If everything is not covered with liquid, add enough water (or broth or wine) to cover everything, then bring back to a simmer, cover and cook another 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes and carrots are tender.

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