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Beef Stew in Acorn Squash
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 medium or 1 large yellow onion, diced 1 stalk celery, diced 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced 1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 cup red wine 1 bay leaf Sprig thyme, marjoram or rosemary 3 cups beef broth 4 medium acorn squash 8 to 10 baby new potatoes, cooked 1/2 cup pearl onions 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
Place 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Add stewing beef and toss to coat the meat.
Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a large heavy pot with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add beef to the pot and allow it to brown on all sides, adding more oil as needed. When all the beef is browned, reserve it and its juices in a bowl.
Add diced onion, celery, carrot, green pepper and garlic to the pot; cook, stirring, on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pot to free flavorful bits. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook vegetables for 1 minute. Increase heat to high and add red wine, allowing it to reduce to a glaze in the bottom of the pot.
Return beef to pot along with the bay leaf and your choice of herbs (thyme, marjoram or rosemary). Add the beef broth and bring to a brief boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and maintain a low simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.
While stew is slowly cooking, prepare squash by cutting a shallow slice off the top of each to make a lid; remove the seeds and strings. Lightly rub the inside of each squash with salt, pepper and olive oil. Replace lids and place on a lined baking tray. Bake at 350 degrees F until tender when pricked with a knife, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside.
Before serving stew, add baby new potatoes, pearl onions and sugar snap peas; gently reheat, if necessary. Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Carefully ladle stew into each squash and serve.