Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hearty Autumn Beef Stew

Fall is finally here, and I couldn't be more excited. The warm and cozy clothing, the nip in the air and of course the heart warming food. This is my signature beef stew. I have been making it ever since I learned how to cook and trust me, it never fails to make people melt in their seats as they take that first bite. The recipe mostly stays the same every time I make it except when I am missing an ingredient or two. I usually add regular chopped onion and button mushrooms, but on days I want to get a little fancier I'll use pearl onions and cremini mushrooms instead.  If it's especially cold outside I'll add potatoes, but when I want to lighten it up a bit, I omit them. And for the beans I like to add cannellini beans but I sometimes switch them up for pinto beans. So this recipe is very flexible which is another reason I love it so much. But I do like to keep the technique and the flavors the same. For example, I never boil meat before I use it. Instead I lock the meat, which basically means I sear the meat on all sides in the pot on very high heat. What this does is lock in the juices, plus it leaves little bits of fat and flavor on the bottom of the pan when you cook it at that high temperature which then flavors the rest of your veggies and sauce. Another thing I don't like to change is the addition of wine. The wine gives it an immense depth of flavor that, without it, is just not the same. And I am sure you all know this by now but cooking wine expired in the 80s. If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it.  Same goes for the rosemary and thyme. Technically you can just do Italian parsley alone, but it's just not going to have that same aroma and flavor. So try to have those on hand when making this dish. OK, enough jabbering. Here's the recipe.

Hearty Autumn Beef Stew
Serves 6

2 lbs cubed chuck beef ( AKA stew beef)
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, halved (or quartered if too big)
3 large rosemary sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
1 can cannellini beans, NOT drained
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup good red drinking wine
8 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 heaping tbsp paprika
1 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp olive oil

Pat beef dry with paper towels. Heat olive oil in the bottom of the pan and brown the meat on all sides on very high heat. Remove and set a side. Immediately add the onion and let it cook for 10 minutes until translucent. Add carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms, thyme and rosemary sprigs. Stir to combine season with 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp. of the pepper,  and cook for 10 minutes until carrots just begin to soften. Add the wine and scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir and bring to a simmer. Add tomato paste and beans with their juice. Stir well. Add the water, remaining salt and pepper, cumin and paprika. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low and add the meat back to the pot. Cover and let cook for 1 hour or until the meat is fork tender. Remove thyme and rosemary sprigs and serve with crusty bread.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm, although us Angelenos are still stewing in triple-digit heat, I'm eager to try this recipe. Is it possible to add a "printer friendly" button on your page? Thanks, Hadass!