Friday, November 9, 2012

Ground Beef Hobo Stew

Hobo Stew, made with ground beef, a mixture of vegetables, canned tomatoes and V-8.
Hobo Stew, made with ground beef, a mixture of vegetables, canned tomatoes and V-8.

Ground Beef Hobo Stew

Pantry friendly and adaptable, I just love this stew. In some variation and often depending on the type of meat you use, you may know this dish by the names of Campfire Stew, Girl Scout Camp Stew, Hobo Stew, Ground Beef Stew, Beggar Stew, Mulligan Stew, or V8 Stew - just to name a few. I just settled on calling it a Ground Beef Hobo Stew.

Historically, a basic Dutch oven style stew that dates back to the early 1900s, it was slow cooked over the coals of an open campfire, often in a can (remember that from Girl Scouts?), or made up in a large casserole style foil packet. It was a communal dish, often enhanced by the next contributor who showed up through the woods, with whatever he had. If you were a Girl Scout, you may well remember this camp-out routine, where we were each asked to each bring along a can of some kind of vegetable from home, which then got added to our own campfire stew. Oh the memories of those days! We'll just keep it easy and take it stovetop or crockpot here.

There really aren't any hard and fast rules as to what goes in it, except some kind of meat, potatoes, a mixture of veggies and not much liquid. What else you add in, depends on what you have on hand and that is why I love it so much. It is a stew though, not a soup, so it should be thick and hearty, although with more liquid added, it also makes a mighty fine soup.

For my stew, I like to use V-8 as my primary liquid. I actually like and used to drink V-8 regularly, and no, not only in a Bloody Mary, though I certainly have enjoyed one of those a time or two in my life. I used to add it to soups and stews where I used tomatoes, though I'm not really quite sure why I stopped, except that V-8 got a little more expensive than my budget allowed, and it wasn't really a pantry staple for me like canned tomatoes are. The blend of veggies in tomato juice found in V-8 is a perfect accent though for just about any soup or stew where you normally use tomatoes, so it's really no secret that cook's have been enhancing recipes with it for years.

This really is a wonderful stew, thick, hearty, filling - just perfect for these chilly days, and very easily adaptable to the slow cooker. While not everybody does, I prefer to brown and drain ground meat before adding it to a crockpot recipe, but other than that, it's just dump all the ingredients in and let it cook till the veggies are tender. Scroll down for directions on how to make my version of Hobo Stew.

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Recipe: Ground Beef Hobo Stew

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 10 min

Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed sweet and hot peppers
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups beef stock or broth
  • 3 (11.5 ounce) cans original or spicy V-8, or tomato juice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh diced carrots (about 2 large)
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 cups cut green beans
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • Couple dashes hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

In the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, peppers and celery; cook and stir until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ground beef, cook and stir until meat is browned and cooked through. Drain off excess fat. Sprinkle meat with flour; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add the beef stock, V-8 juice and diced tomatoes. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, corn and green beans. Add Worcestershire, hot sauce and seasonings to taste. Stir, cover and simmer over medium to medium low (low bubble) for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Hobo stew can be served as is, or spooned over rice or mashed potatoes. Serve with hot cornbread, biscuits or rolls.

Cook's Notes: Use other meats such as stew meat, venison, bacon, Italian sausage, smoked sausage, andouille or kielbasa - all good choices. If using a stewing type of meat, allow it to cook in the base veggies and juice for about 1 hour before adding in the vegetables. Use fresh or frozen vegetables, or may substitute 1 can of drained carrots, corn and cut green beans or use a variety of other vegetables or beans, such as mixed vegetables, shredded cabbage, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, hominy, turnips, kidney beans, great northern beans, lima beans. You'll want around 5 to 6 cups fresh or frozen, or about 3 (15 ounce) cans. If using canned vegetables, allow the potatoes and carrots to cook for 30 minutes before adding in the canned vegetables.

Also okay to use lower sodium or spicy V-8, but taste stew to adjust seasonings up or down as needed. If using spicy, take into consideration hot peppers and other spicy seasonings you use. May also substitute a can of Rotel tomatoes for the diced, if desired.

Crockpot: Saute the vegetables and brown the meat as above; add that along with the remaining ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until veggies are tender.

Variation: To convert to a Hobo Soup, increase the beef stock/broth to about 4 cups or to desired consistency.


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Posted by on November 9, 2012
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