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Alphabet Stew


A bowl of hearty beef stew is topped with puffed-up pastry letters!


  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 3 pounds beef chuck cubes
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on an angle into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 17.3-ounce box thawed frozen puff pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 2 teaspoons EVOO over medium heat for 1 minute.
  2. Pat the meat dry. Working in three batches, cook the meat, without moving it, until browned, 2 minutes. Turn the meat and sear all over, 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon EVOO to the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring, over medium heat, until golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes (the mixture will be dry). Stir in the broth 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Add the tomato paste.
  5. Put the meat back in the pot; add the juices from the plate. Cover and bake, stirring once, for 1 hour 45 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots; cover and keep baking until the carrots are tender, 20 minutes. Remove the stew from the oven; let rest while you make the pastry letters.
  7. Increase the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Unfold the puff pastry on a floured surface. Using 3-inch alphabet cookie cutters, cut out the dough. Transfer to the baking sheets. Bake until the letters are puffed and golden, 15 minutes.
  8. Stir the peas into the stew. Divide among bowls, then top with the pastry letters.