An easy recipe, beef stew, is actually very difficult to make well. Have you ever had beef stew that was dry and tough? The potatoes were translucent and watery? The vegetables had disintegrated? The broth was flavorless and soupy? I know that all the beef stews I’ve ever cooked ended up being rather unappetizing. My motivation for this post comes from the fact that I don’t have the luxury of selecting high quality chuck-eye roast that’s perfectly marbled to make my beef stew succulent. I sometimes get stew meat from my CSA.
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 pounds stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick
- 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1-inch thick
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups homemade or beef broth
- 4 ounces bacon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- Heat oven to 300 degrees.
- Combine the minced garlic with 1 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Stir in the tomato paste and set the mixture aside.
- Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Place the beef cubes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add half the beef (or less) to the pot. Don’t overcrowd the pot. Brown the beef on all sides, about 1 minutes per side. If the pot becomes too dry, add more oil. Transfer the beef to a large plate.
- Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and remaining beef, leaving the second batch of beef in the pot after browning.
- Reduce the heat to medium and return the first batch of beef to the pot. Add carrots and onions and cook until the onions have begun to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic mixture, stiring constantly, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and stir until no dry flour remains, about 30 seconds.
- Slowly add the wine, scraping up any brown bits that have hopefully stuck to the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and allow the wine to simmer until it starts to thicken slightly, about 2 minutes.
- Add stock, bacon, bay leaves, and thyme and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and transfer to the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove pot from oven and add the potatoes. Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, stir in the pearl onions and transfer to the oven again. Cook for at least 15 – 20 minutes.
- At this point, check the temperature of the meat. The stew is done when the beef temperature reaches 200ºF and the sauce is thick, glossy, and beautiful. If the meat is between 185ºF and 195ºF, it will be dry and tough. Cook in the oven until the meat is at temperature and the stew is done.
- Add the peas very last minute and let them just sit in the hot stew for 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
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