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Tis the season for comfort food! I've been making a lot of this beef stew lately. It's enriched with red wine and beef broth, and lots of aromatics give it depth of flavour.
My beef stew obsession, although always lurking in the background, was recently reawakened following a trip to Calgary where S's dad made us a to-die-for oxtail stew that just rocked my world. (His guest post on it is coming soon.) When we returned home, I was inspired to make a signature stew of my own. I've tried it a few times now, and I think I've finally found my stewing groove in this recipe that follows.
Serves four to six
1.5 kg stewing beef, cut into large cubes
1/2 cup flour for dredging
2 carrots, finely diced
2 carrots, cut into large cubes (~3 cm wide)
2 celery ribs, finely diced
2 small onions, finely diced
2 sweet potatoes, cut into large cubes (~3 cm wide)
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
4 bay leaves
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
a pinch of hot pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
1 parmesan rind
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
chopped parsley for garnish
salt and pepper
Dredge the meat cubes in the flour and dust off. Heat some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium to high heat. Add the meat cubes and brown on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper and turning the heat down as necessary. You want to caramelize the surface, not cook them through. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside. You will now have a deliciously dirty pan with lots of black bits on the bottom (and black bits = flavour!)
Add more oil to that pan, and toss in the finely diced carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Soften while stirring for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the red wine and lift those brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, hot pepper flakes and herbes de Provence.
Return the meat back to the pan and add just enough beef stock to almost cover. Add in the parmesan rind, which will dissolve to impart a salty hit and deepen the flavour. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer for about an hour.
After an hour, add the large cubes of potatoes and carrots and more beef stock or water if necessary. Cover and cook for another half hour to an hour on low heat until tender.
Just before you are about to serve, take out the remains of the parmesan rind and stir in the balsamic vinegar. It lifts off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan again and brightens the flavour of the stewing juices. Plate the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and serve with baguette.