Monday, March 2, 2020

An Unforgettable Beef Stew

This is the second time this year I have made this stew. The recipe is an adaptation of Ina Garten's Unforgettable Beef Stew which I found on the Veggies By Candlelight blog. I also adapted that recipe to fit our tastes and to what I had in the house for ingredients.

In the blog post on Veggies by Candlelight, there are rules that the writer received from the person who gave her the recipe. They are really good and they should be followed.
Again from Veggies by Candlelight-

  • You must sear the meat, not simply brown the sides. This will have to be done in batches because the beef cubes need to sizzle in a hot pan for a good five minutes before nudging them. Only when the bottoms have a dark crust and come away easily from the pan can you move on to the other sides.
  • Whatever you do, please don't scrimp on the time. Stew meat takes a good long stretch of cooking before it becomes tender. Cook it low and slow for at least two hours
  • Use chicken stock instead of beef. That is unless you make your own beef stock.
  • For seasonings Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and good red wine.  Substituting a good dark beer for the wine is usually a great choice.  Keep the seasonings fairly simple.  If you've seared the meat well and cooked it long enough, a good stew can really stand on its own without much else.

1 pound good-quality beef chuck, cubed into ~ 1 ½" sized pieces
1 1/2 cups of good red wine
2 bay leaves 
1 cup flour  
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil 
1 yellow onion, chopped 
2 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 ½" chunks
1/2 lb small potatoes halved or quartered
1 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp chopped dried rosemary
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
5 oz package frozen peas

The night before, or a couple of hours before you start...
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine and bay leaves.
Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Brown the Beef
The next day, preheat the oven to 300° F.
In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour,  1/2 tbsp salt, and pepper, and combine.
Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon, discard the bay leaves, saving the marinade.
In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mix before shaking off the excess.
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. See the notes above.
Place the seared beef in a bowl and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) 
Remove the beef and place in a bowl.

Prep the Veggies
In the Dutch oven, heat another glug of oil before adding the onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add the vegetables to the bowl with the beef.
Finish the Soup
Add the reserved marinade to the empty Dutch oven and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon 
Add the stock, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. 
Add the meat and vegetables, including all the juices to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. 
Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, or until all of the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking.
If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275° F. 
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

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