Looking for a spooky main course to celebrate Halloween? You’ve come to the right place! I came up with Witches Brew Stew for Disney Dinners: Hocus Pocus. It’s a twist on my classic beef stew (which is so good, it’s in my cookbook!). Here I’ve swapped the carrots for more seasonal butternut squash and I’ve added a haunting twist: a floating cream cheese eyeball inspired by the Sanderson Sisters’ spell book.
The eyeballs take no time at all to make and are something that little cooks would probably love helping you with! I rolled cream cheese into balls and added sliced black olives to each. I did this right before serving and was shocked at how well the eyeballs stayed in tact. I kind of assumed they would melt into the stew instantly but it definitely was looking back at me while I was eating it until I broke it up with my spoon!
Beef stew is very hands-off for the majority of cook time but it does spend three hours in the oven so plan accordingly. I would say it takes about thirty minutes to put together plus three hours hands-off time. You could easily start this at 2 pm, have the dishes done by 2:30, and when the kiddos get home from school, have plenty of time to get them in their costumes before serving a quick bowl of Witches Brew Stew. All you have to do during the three hour cook time is add butternut squash two hours in.
This is really a very easy dish to make. The most complicated part is simply browning the beef. Then you pretty much dump everything in the Dutch oven and leave it alone. I love easy recipes like that! This will make your whole house smell absolutely incredibly and the meat is fall-apart tender.
Witches Brew Stew
2 lbs stew meat
2 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups diced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water, divided
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup red wine
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 cups Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
2 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes
Italian parsley for garnish
2-4 oz cream cheese
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse stew meat and pat dry with a paper towel. Toss with 2 1/2 Tbsp flour, salt, and pepper. Brown in 1 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven on the stove over a medium flame, working in batches. Remove to a plate. Lower heat, add 1 Tbsp butter, and cook onion for a few minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one or two minutes, until fragrant.
- Deglaze pan with two cups of water. Toss in two beef bouillon cubes, one cup of red wine, one tablespoon of balsamic, and remaining two cups of water. Add bay leaves, potatoes, and add the stew meat back in. Tie rosemary with kitchen twine and add to dutch oven. Put the lid on and pop in the oven for two hours.
- Take stew out of the oven, add butternut squash, then return to the oven for another hour. It’s ready as soon as the potatoes and squash are fork-tender.
- While the stew is finishing up, roll cream cheese into balls (about a half tablespoon per eyeball), pressing sliced black olives into each ball.
- Garnish the stew with chopped Italian parsley and serve each bowl with an edible eyeball.
Note: If you want to use beef broth instead of beef bouillon cubes, omit two cups of water. Two beef bouillon cubes + 2 cups water = 2 cups beef broth. If you use all four cups of water with beef broth, you will have two cups of extra liquid and the stew will be runny.
Read more about Disney Dinners: Hocus Pocus here. Watch the episode here: