Homestyle Beef Stew

November 9, 2014

Homestyle Beef Stew
Beef stew is one of my favorite cold-weather dishes.  In addition to rich beef stock, fresh herbs and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon make this dish even better than the beef stew you remember from childhood.  It's sophisticated - but not so much so that the kids won't eat it.  In fact, my kids race one another to be "first in line" to fill their bowls.  Paired with some rustic bread or biscuits, and you have a hearty meal that warms you up from the inside.  Click below to read more.


Everyone keeps telling me not to rush it, but it just can't get cold fast enough to suit me.  With four kids still at home, and a day job that keeps me busy throughout the week, I love nothing more than to spend the day on Sunday cooking up a feast for our while the wind howls outside.  I find it so relaxing.  

Seasoned and trimmed stew meat.
But the weather wasn't cooperating today.  Instead of cold and wind, we had a gorgeous warm day with blue skies and no wind at all.  I know, I know.  Who can complain about that?

Even so, I had already planned dinner, so I just pretended that it was freezing outside.  I started by trimming up the stew meat liberally seasoning with salt and pepper .

While some fat adds to the taste of the meat, I got rid of the extra fat pads on the meat chunks, and cut them down into smaller pieces while I was at it.
  Once they are cut and seasoned, I transfer them to a zip-lok bag with some flour in it, and shake it up until all the cubes are all well-coated.
Browned beef cubes in olive oil and butter

Working in batches, the flour-coated meat cubes are browned in a mixture of butter and olive oil in an enameled cast-iron Dutch Oven.  It's important to let them get good and browned.  The trick is to not over handle them or try to turn them too quickly.  Let them go over medium high heat until you can see (without touching them) that they're beginning to brown on the bottom.  Then turn them over and repeat the same process.

deglazing the pot with onions and beef stock
Don't worry about all the "burnt bits" on the bottom.  We're going to deglaze the pot and they'll all come off at that time and contribute to the gravy part of the stew.  These bits are worth their weight in gold.

As the meat browns, transfer it to a large bowl and let it rest.  When it's all done,  it's time to deglaze the pot.  I always like to start with onions and find that simply covering the pot with a lid causes enough condensation that most of the bits scrape up from the bottom quite easily.

Once the onions are translucent, a splash of stock helps to scrape up any lingering bits.  After this, we're in the home stretch.  Simply add the meat back into the pot along with any juices that collected in the bottom the bowl.  Throw a bunch of carrots in, add the rest of the stock mixed with flour, the wine, some spices and throw it in a 300F oven for about 3 hours.

Pull it out, give it a stir, add some potatoes and green beans.  Pop it back into the oven for another hour and a half to two hours, and voilĂ !  Dinner's ready!


Homestyle Beef Stew Recipe

Homestyle Beef Stew
Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds stew meat
6 carrots, sliced on the bias
2 large onions diced
1 can green beans
7 medium gold potatoes, cubed
1 32 oz. box of beef stock
2/3 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper


Directions

  1. Trim meat cubes and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour.
  2. Add butter and olive oil to a thick bottomed pot and heat until bubbling.  Add meat - a little at a time, and brown well on all sides.  Remove when browned.
  3. Deglaze the pot with onions and about 1/2 cup of the beef stock, stirring with a wooden spoon to help release browned bits on bottom.  
  4. Add the meat back (along with any juices that have collected) as well as the carrots, wine, rosemary, and thyme.
  5. Mix flour with some of the beef stock and stir until smooth.  Add this to the pot and stir it in to mix.
  6. Add enough of the remaining stock so that it just barely covers ingredients in the pot.  You may not have to add the whole box.
  7. Cover and put in a 300F oven for about 3 hours.
  8. Remove from oven, add potatoes and green beans.  
  9. Cover and return to oven for about one and a half to two hours.
  10. Remove from oven, stir carefully, and serve with freshly baked bread or biscuits.

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