January 22, 2013

Beef Stew

Beef StewEvery year around this time, when the air is as sharp and cold as a chef’s knife against my cheeks, I extract a wrinkled and worn beef stew recipe from my fat manilla recipe folder.  Friends come from as far as Bushwick and even Grammercy to get a taste of hot stew and to share in my love of beef...beef that falls apart like a contestant on The Bachelor.  Last Saturday, I chopped, peeled, stirred and cursed all day in preparation for the night’s shindig, my 4th Annual Beef Stew Dinner, which also included homemade pickles in three colors of the rainbow, an asparagus salad that will make you Tweet, a batch of homemade baked ricotta cheese and a stack of shiny, cracked brownie cookies. 

Beef StewIn an attempt to keep you coming back to BS over and over, these recipes will all be bestowed upon you in the coming weeks, ha!  This year's stew dinner was a tad different than other years in that I invited my stew-enthusiast pal, Joel, to bring a stew of his own which he set on my stove with the expression of a sneaky cartoon villain.  His was a deep-colored drunken stew of beef that was simmered in wine and beer and set up with mushrooms, fennel, cashews and a garnish of lemon and green onion. How’s that for creative stewing?  

There was not a trace of either stew left by the end of the night; it was all gobbled with gusto.  Overfed guests were draped all over the couch and the rug, no doubt stew-isfied for the rest of the year.  My go-to beef stew recipe below is tried and true, hearty and traditional and has been finely tuned over the years.  I urge you to make a stew tradition of your own and maybe somewhere down the line, dare to break tradition with a glug of booze, a handful of cilantro or a garnish of pickled onions.  Damn, I have to try that next year. 

(adapted from Food Network Kitchens Beef Stew recipe)

Makes 6-8 servings
Cook Time: 3 or more hours

Vegetable oil, for searing
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck (thick chuck steak), cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 6ths
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
10 cups chicken broth (or water, or beef broth)
6 sprigs parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 pound medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
7 canned whole, peeled tomatoes, lightly crushed
3 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste

1.  Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat.  Pour in enough oil to fill the pot about 1/4 inch deep.  Dry the beef on all sides with paper towels and season on all sides generously with salt and pepper.  Add the beef to the pot in 3 or 4 batches, browning it on both sides, about 8 minutes (if you crowd the meat, it will steam rather than brown).  Transfer the browned beef to a plate.  When all the beef is browned and transferred to the plate, pour the hot oil into a heat-safe receptacle (not down your sink drain as this will cause a major clog), allow it to cool and dispose of it in your garbage (I disposed of mine inside one of the empty boxes of chicken broth). 

2.  Return the pot to the stove.  Scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of your pot, but leave them in there to add flavor to the stew. Melt the butter in the pot, then add the onions and cook, stirring, until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute.  Add the beef (minus its drippings) back to the pot, and scatter the flour over the beef and onion mixture.  Cook, stirring, until the flour is lightly toasted.  Add the wine and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the water or broth and bring to a simmer.  Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine or a strip of cheesecloth and add the bundle to the pot.  Cover the pot and cook at a low simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

3.  Add the potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer again.  Cook, UNCOVERED, stirring occasionally until the liquid thickens, the vegetables are tender and the beef easily shreds with a light touch, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours more. 

4.  Remove and discard the herb bundle.  Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.


  1. What a fun idea! I want to have a stew party. You should invite bloggers next year. ;)

  2. Hiya Sydney, I think a blogger's stew party is an awesome idea!