I had my doubts about this recipe when I read that everything was just layered into a casserole and put in the oven to bake.  I have made oven stews before but I have always tossed the meat in some seasoned flour and browned it before it went into the casserole and into the oven.  I was leary about this but decided to follow the recipe as it was written.  Well, I should have listened to my instincts.  I layered all the ingredients into the casserole, added the seasonings and beef stock.  Covered the pan and put it into the 325 degree oven as stated in the recipe.  Well, after an hour when I went to check on it, the top layer of potatoes were hard as a rock and hardly even warm.  I knew this was going to be a problem. I took the cover off as stated in the recipe, and I increased the oven temperature to 350 degrees. After another hour I checked it again.  The potatoes were still rock hard and the meat, while starting to cook was a pasty gray color, hardly appetizing.  I also noticed that the stock was barely simmering and was still very thin.  I had hoped it would thicken a bit due to the potatoes.  After 2 hours and 30 minutes in the oven I finally took it out and put it on the stove to simmer for another hour to get the potatoes to cook and I had to thicken the gravy with some flour paste.  The meat was cooked but still an unappetizing greyish color. The meat definitely needed to be browned.  I was disappointed with this stew.  While it tasted fine, it was not very appealing to look at and really not all that great.  I won’t be making this one again.

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