Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beef Stew

Fall is in full force here and it is cold. The last couple days it has also been rainy. With the weather getting ugly I wanted something warm, hardy and comforting.

This is a recipe I have been wanting to try for a while. I am a big fan of Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) on Food Network. I love her style of cooking and her choice of foods. This stew sounded so wonderful I had to try it. We hadn't had beef stew in years and I was looking forward to a homemade recipe.

Beef Stew
with credit to The Barefoot Contessa

2 1/2 lb. good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
1 lb. small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas


Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in 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, until 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 degrees F.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

My personal notes
: I cut the recipe down to about 2/3 of this; using a little over 1 pound of meat. I bought a package of pre-cut meat labeled as "stew meat" at the grocery store and it was flavorful and tender. The sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms were particularly delicious. I was concerned the mushrooms wouldn't hold up to all the cooking time but they were still intact and wonderfully flavored in the stew.
I did not have fresh rosemary so I used dried. Ina would hate this! I looked for fresh, I really did. In my opinion; the wine, the rosemary and the sun-dried tomatoes really make this recipe special.
Very, very pleased and Husband was raving; we have a winner here. I also have leftovers for another meal in the freezer-bonus!!

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