When I see FIVE STAR recipes reviewed by this many people, I expect the recipe itself to stand on it's own, with little or no modification.
As is, this recipe is a TWO STAR; unless you like somewhat bland mashed potatoes with beef chunks, then I suppose it might be a FOUR STAR.
I agree with many of the other reviewers that this DOES need spiced up. I, too, tried the stewed tomatoes, sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and worcestershire sauce.
After those rather major modifications, I still cannot give this recipe a FIVE because, putting the potatoes in when instructed, I ended up with "tastier mashed potatoes with beef chunks".
Being new to cooking stews, I had no idea that the two hour time would be excessive for potatoes. Everyone I've talked to since, including good old mother, said they normally add potatoes the last half hour or so of simmering. Which, makes sense since at about a half hour into the two hours, I got a bit nervous when the potatoes were done, but the carrots were not... AND the flavor had not had enough time to cook into the stew.
Since I'm a novice chef and am more apt to "go by the book" rather than invent ideas on my own, I'd request anyone who got the PERFECT combination of spices and time frames together to improve upon this recipe to create a brand new (and improved) entry on this site.
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When I see FIVE STAR recipes reviewed by this many people, I expect the recipe itself to stand...