Friday, April 12, 2013

Incredible Beef Stew
(adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe)

I made this for the second time last night and found my version (especially the addition of the tomato paste and Worcestershire) to be so darned good and easy that I had to share. Just give this dish enough time to cook. Making this a day ahead only makes it better. Making a double batch gives you leftovers that make fantastic, elegant lunches or dinners when you don't want to cook.

  • 1T grape seed oil (high flash point) for searing
  • 1T extra-virgin olive oil, for sauteing mushrooms
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 4 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 1 1/2-2-inch pieces. If there is a bone or some connective tissue in the roast, leave some meat on it and cook it too. You can take it out later
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 2 cups good quality dry red wine
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs (or 2t dried)
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 24 oz. homemade chicken stock
  • 2 T Demi Glace Gold
  • 2T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1T low sodium soy
  • 8 medium new potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2 or 1/4 if they are large
  • 1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for stew and garnish
  • 1/2 cup additional dry red or white wine (optional)
  • 2T port wine (optional)
Cut your chuck into 1 1/2"-2" pieces, and trim any excess fat. Leave a little meat on any bone or connective tissue and save that too. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the grape seed oil.
Pre-heat the pan and arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to crowd them. You want fond, so you want browning. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. If you have any bones or connective tissue from the roast (no fat) brown them too. You may have to do this in 2 or even 3 batches. It's worth it. Remove to a plate and reserve.

Add the tomato paste to the pan and the diced onion. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. The onion should be soft just slightly browned. Add the wine and some of the stock and bring up to a simmer while you loosen the browned bits. I use a wooden spatula for this. Add the rest of the stock, the browned meat, Worcestershire, soy, demi glace, thyme, garlic, ground clove, freshly ground black pepper to taste, bay leaves and 2 cups water. Pre heat the oven to 350'.

Bring the mixture up to a boil, then cover and place in the oven 2 hours.
After 2 hours, saute the mushrooms in a pan with olive oil, a dash of salt, and a bit of thyme until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Pull the stew from the oven and add the mushrooms. If it has cooked down too much add a bit of water. De-glaze the pan with a splash of wine or even water and add the mushroom fond to the stew too. Dump in the potatoes, baby carrots, chopped parsley, and pearl onions. Taste for seasoning. You may need to add a bit of salt. If the stew tastes a bit tart from the wine, add the port to improve the balance.

Bring back to a simmer and return to the oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas 10 minutes before serving. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley and fresh ground pepper. Bread is optional, but you may want it to get the last bit of stew out of the bowl. Serve with a robust red wine.

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