Beef Stew

It isn't the most photogenic dish, but it absolutely is delicious.

It isn't the most photogenic dish, but it absolutely is delicious.

This is the first recipe I've posted in over a year, which is hard to believe.  For awhile, I wasn't interested in cooking at all.  The last few months, I've been getting back into the swing of things in the kitchen, but I haven't made much that I felt like photographing or that really caught my fancy.  I had high hopes for these Pumpkin Scones that I made over the weekend, but neither of us liked them, which was disappointing (and I still have 20 in my freezer to bake later).  I'm still obsessed with my favorite Kale Salad (if you haven't tried this, now is the time as persimmons are in season), I've been making and freezing spaghetti sauce, and when I eat out, I'm craving French Dip sandwiches (don't ask... but does anyone have a recipe?  I'd love to make these at home).  This weekend I even made homemade croissants (more on those later).  I'm going to try to get back into posting recipes.  Let me know if you've made something delicious that I should try.

And now, beef stew.  Beef stew has been a long-standing favorite in my family. For several years, we had it on Christmas in lieu of a roast or something more traditional because I loved it so much.  Today our weather turned towards winter and I found myself dreaming of a hearty beef stew.  I knew I could wing it and make something, but I had flagged the recipe in the Flour, Too cookbook to try ages ago and figured it was about time.

First Snow.JPG

In Flour, Too, this is actually called the "Best-Ever Beef Stew."  I hesitate to call anything the "best-ever," especially a recipe as ripe for adaption as beef stew, but this is seriously delicious and perfect for our first snow this fall.     

The best part of the stew is the broth.  I didn't even have homemade beef stock, which I am sure would make it even better, but using a mix of store-bought stock, bouillon, red wine, and beer yielded excellent results.  I suspect you can add any vegetables that you think will complement the soup - I included more carrots and potatoes that originally called for and am happy I did.  Be sure to serve this with some crusty bread and butter that people can use to soak up the broth from their bowl.

"Best-Ever" Beef Stew

Adapted from Flour, Too
Yield = 6-8 servings (as a main dish)

Note - I found it very helpful to prep the meat and all the vegetables in advance.  The vegetables get added in two batches, so you can prep and separate everything into two bowls, which makes getting the stew together incredibly simple.  You can definitely add other vegetables that you have on-hand or think would go well, just be conscious of their cooking time as to when you add them so they don't overcook. 

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch rounds (peel if you'd like)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb (leafy tops trimmed and discarded), bulb chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 quarts liquid - The original recipe calls for 2 quarts of beef stock.  I used 1 quart of beef stock (store bought), an additional 24 ounces of beef broth (water with beef bouillon), and one beer (I used Shiner Bock Octoberfest because that is what we had on-hand - I think the beer adds great flavor and would recommend putting one in).
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (peel if you'd like)
  • 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
  • 4 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and halved
  • 3/4 cup red wine

Preparation

1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 tsp of the salt, and 1/4 tsp of the pepper.  Add the beef and toss until the pieces are evenly coated with the flour.

2.  In the stockpot, melt 2 tbsp of the butter over medium heat until it foams.  When the foam begins to subside, add about half of the beef cubes, shaking them a bit to remove the excess flour before you toss them into the pot.  Brown the beef cubes, turning them as needed, for 2-3 minutes, or until evenly browned on all sides.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl.  Add 2 tbsp butter to the pot and brown the remaining beef uses the same way and transfer to the bowl.  Set aside.  If your stock pot is big enough, you may be able to do this in one batch (I used a large Le Creuset and was able to do so).

3.  In the same stockiest, add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the yellow onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and fennel and sweat the vegetables, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften and the onion is translucent.  Stir in the tomato past.  Return the beef to the pot and stir over medium heat for about 1 minute.  Add the stock, the remaining 2 tsp of salt, and the remaining 3/4 tsp of pepper and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

4.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hour to thicken the stew slowly.  Add the rosemary, thyme, potatoes, pearl onions, mushrooms, and 1/2 cup of the wine and simmer for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until the stew thickens to the point that it coats the vegetables.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and bring the stew to a boil.  Turn off the heat.

5.  Ladle the stew into bowls and serve immediately.  The stew can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.