January 20, 2014

Hearty and Delicious Beef Stew

It is beef stew weather.  Cold and dreary, and all I want to eat is warm hearty soups and stews that warm me up as I'm eating them.

This beef stew sure fits the bill! The stew is delicious and meaty with a fragrant broth and lots of delicious chunks of veggies and beef.  The key to the deliciousness is the fond, the red wine, the thyme, oh it's just about everything.

While the stew isn't the fastest thing to make, the stew is great for reheating.  So make a big pot of beef stew on Sunday and eat it for dinner later in the week.  It also freezes well-so you can make some for now and keep some for later.

Hearty Beef Stew
adapted from the Kitchn

2 pounds beef stew meat
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth + additional if needed
3 carrots
2 cups diced waxy potatoes (red or gold work well)
1 cup frozen green beans
salt and pepper
red wine and Worcestershire sauce for finishing

  1. Check meat chunks for size.  You may need to cut any huge pieces in half so they're more bite size.
  2. Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a heavy bottom dutch oven or stock pot.
  3. In batches, brown meat chunks on sides.  Remove browned beef to a bowl.  You want a yummy brown fond to develop on the bottom of your pot--this is where lots of flavor comes from.  If you fond gets a little to brown (burned) at about a tablespoon of water to the bottom of the pan.
  4. After all meat is browned reduce heat to medium.
  5. Dice onion and celery.  Add an additional tablespoon of oil to pot if it dry.  Cook until onion is soft, 5-10 minutes. 
  6. Mince garlic and add to onions and celery.  Mix together, and cook for about 1 minute.
  7. Stir in tomato paste.  Cook for 30 seconds until tomato paste is soft and fragrant.
  8. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce.  Stir everything together.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon of flour.  Stir into the onion-garlic mixture until flour is no longer visible.
  10. Deglaze the pot with ½ cup red wine.  As the wine bubbles use a wooden spoon to scrape the delicious fond off the bottom of the pot.  Cook and stir until wine has reduced and thickened. 
  11. Put the meat and any juices in the bowl back into the pot. 
  12. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and chicken broth.  Stir to combine.
  13. Bring pot to a simmer, then lower heat to low and put the lid on your pot.  You want the stew to gently simmer--low and slow. Cook for 1 ½ hours stirring occasionally. 
  14. Dice potatoes and carrots.  Add potatoes, carrots and green beans to stew.  Cook for 45-60 more minutes until potatoes and green beans are cooked through.
  15. Just before serving add a splash of red wine (optional) and another 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce.  Stir in and serve!
Gosh this beef stew is so good!  We loved it served with hearty bread--it was actually my first time attempting Jim Lahey's no-knead bread.  Note to self--do not leave the bread after you take the lid off...

The stew is also great with red wine and a good book.  And don't forget--this freezes well!  Just portion into freezer bags and freeze flat.  This gives the stew a quick defrost time which is great for lunch!  

Do you have any favorite tips for making beef stew?  I love that this one uses chicken broth--which I always have on hand! 

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