Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Beef Stew

One of my favorite Sunday suppers is beef stew. Stew lends itself well to long afternoons puttering in the kitchen and it makes the house smell wonderful. Here's my version.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large pot (I always use my Le Creuset french oven), saute 2-3 pound beef stew meat in little olive oil until browned on all sides. Don't forget to season the meat with salt and pepper before searing it. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside. Add a little oil to the pot if necessary and saute 1 large, chopped onion, a few celery stalks, chopped, a couple of carrots, chopped, and 3-4 cloves of sliced garlic. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and stir them about a bit until they begin to brown. Add 1/2-3/4 cup red wine (preferably left over from last night's libations) to the pot. Cook for a minute or so to burn off most of the alcohol. Return the meat to the pan. Toss in some fresh herbs (I like thyme, rosemary, bay leaves--whatever you have on hand in the fridge that smells good). Add enough beef stock to submerge the meat nearly all of the way--you don't really want the meat covered in broth. Cover the pot, put it in the oven, and forget about it for at least two and as many as four hours.

When you are starting to get hungry because your house smells so yummy, chop up some more carrots, some turnips, some parsnips, and some potatoes--whatever root vegetables you have on hand, even the "tired" looking ones. Pull the pot out of the oven and add your vegetables along with a 32-ounce can of chopped tomatoes. Stir it together gently; again, your solids should be just shy of being submerged in your liquids. If necessary, add a little more stock or water. Put the pot back in the oven and jack the heat up to 350 degrees. Cook for another hour or so, until the potatoes (and the other veggies) are just tender.

The last bit of magic. Just before serving, add a can of tomato paste and stir it thoroughly into the stew. This thickens the sauce and adds a bit of sweetness to the overall flavor profile. Taste for seasoning. Serve with a crusty bread and a big red wine.

No comments: