It's fall and my all time favorite meal for chilly days is beef stew. I have literally been drooling of the thought of making beef stew all summer- yes, I could have made it during the summer but I was too busy grilling (because grilling equals way less after dinner clean up).
So, today I made beef stew. I ended up making it right after lunch because I had to take my dog to the vet for an ongoing skin issue he is having and the only appointment they had available for today was 5 pm. This really is a great make ahead meal; you can even make it up to three days in advance. I really wish I made a double batch though so I could have frozen some for quick dinners/lunches but the pot was empty when dinner was over.
Here is the best beef stew I have ever made or eaten in the thirty years I have been alive, and I am in no way exaggerating.
Old Fashioned Beef Stew (from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook)
3 lb boneless beef chuck eye roast- trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 in pieces
*do not use stew meat. Buying a chuck roast with good marbling of fat gives you a consistent flavor
and texture, as well as the fact that you will have more constant sizing of the pieces when you cut
3 tablespoons oil (calls for vegetable but I used organic canola)
2 onions coarsely chopped (I only used one large onion)
3 minced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon is recommended and is what I used)
2 cups low sodium chicken stock (I used homemade- cheap and yummy)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
4 large carrots peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used baby carrots and cut them into four pieces)
1 cup thawed frozen peas (omitted this and did not miss it in the final product)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (omitted this because I forgot to buy it)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Season the beef with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper- toss to evenly coat all pieces.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium high in a dutch oven; brown meat on all sides in 2 batches, adding one more tablespoon of oil if needed. Set the beef aside and add the onion to the pot and cook until almost softened. Reduce the heat to medium and add the minced garlic, cooking until it becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in the flour and cook until the mixture has lightly browned and then add the wine. Scrape any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan and then add the chicken broth, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a simmer, add the meat and then bring to a simmer again. Put the cover on the dutch oven (you want a super tight fit so a great tip is to first put aluminum foil over the dutch oven and then put the lid on) and then place into the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Take the pot from the oven and add the carrots and potatoes (if you want to prep the potatoes when you are prepping the ingredients for the first phase of the recipe, you can store the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from browning). Cover the pot and return to the oven for another hour. If you are cooking this ahead of time then you can let the stew cool and refrigerate for up to three days. If not, stir in the thawed peas and let stand for five minutes. Then mix in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste (I forgot to add salt and pepper and it was still delicious- I am such a scatterbrain). At this point, the stew can be refrigerated for up to two days if need be, otherwise serve it to your family and watch them scarf it up!
As I said earlier- this is the best beef stew I have ever had. The broth was awesome- I do not even understand how wine and chicken broth came out tasting how it did but it was like magic. The beef was so tender that it pretty much melted in your mouth. Next time I will make a double batch because I am craving a bowl right now but it's a little late to make stew and I don't have any beef left : )
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