stew1Nothing says comfort like a big bowl of beef stew served hot with some crusty bread or rice or pasta. Here is a recipe for beef stew that will bring the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket.  I know it’s the beginning of spring, but from where I sit and look out as I write this, I see lots of snow.  I got the idea for stew from two sources – a magazine and my trip to the grocer.  Couldn’t resist those beautiful chunks of beef as I walked by. 

I know it looks complex but really it’s not – those ingredients are just flavorings and if you don’t have something, just substitute something else from your pantry.  You can add dried Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Tumeric, Curry Powder etc – you get the idea, it’s all about flavor.  Just know the taste of what you are adding into the stew.  Some spices/herbs are better in small doses.  You can also add other vegetables to the mix – rutabaga, parsnip, spinach, kale etc. 

1 lb Stewing Beef, cut in 1″ cubes
1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 large Onion, rustic chop
1 large Carrot, rustic chop
1 Potato, rustic chop
1 cup Red Wine – Cab, Merlot
1 cup Water or Beef Stock (or chicken stock)
5 cloves of Garlic, lightly smashed
1 sprig Thyme – whole
3 Cloves
1 3″ stick Cinnamon stick
3 pieces Bay Leaf
2 tblsp Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper to taste

– Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven.
– Mix the flour, salt, onion powder, sage, paprika – dredge the beef cubes in this, reserve this flour mix for later.
– When the oil is hot add the beef one piece at a time, allow the pan to regain some of the heat loss due to the new additions – this way you will guaranty your meat will sear and caramelize as oppose to “stew” and got soggy.
– Let the beef caramelize – it should be dark brown to capture and lock in all the flavor – best thing to do is try a piece of caramelized beef – if this is tasty, you know your stew will be tasty.
– Remove the beef to a bowl.
– Drain any excess oil from the pan and add the Onions, Carrots and Garlic to the pot, stir for a minute – note if it is starting to stick and burn, reduce the heat or take the pot off the burner, add the water/stock first – it will sizzle and evaporate, then the red wine (no sense evaporating red wine – sheesh!).
– Add the water/stock and red wine, stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot, that brown stuff at the bottom of the pot is tasty bits of flavor for your stew.
– Add the remaining ingredients – garlic, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, bay leaf – bring this to a simmer.
– Add the beef, reduce the heat, cover and let this simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
– While the stew is simmering – parboil the whole potato – cut into cubes – season the cut cubes with salt and pepper.
– Check after 20 minutes – the beef should be about 75% tender – if the liquid in the pan is too thin, add some of the remaining flour to the pot and stir while it is simmering – this will cook the flour and thicken the sauce.
– Thickened sauce burns easily and quickly so don’t leave it unattended.
– Add the potatoes – simmer for about 10 more minutes – beef should be tender, potatoes flavorful and stewed, gravy tasty.
– Taste and season – serve with crusty bread, or plain rice, or over your favorite pasta – try and remove the bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and thyme before serving, otherwise just warn everyone they are in there – call it a “rustic” meal, It’s the excuse I use when I can’t find everything.
As always – enjoy!