Throw Away All Your Other Beef Stew Recipes
Ahhhh… beef stew.
This is the end of your search, folks. This beef stew, if you ask me, is the ONLY beef stew. There is no other. In fact, I almost didn’t share it with you because I was feeling possessive. Kidding, kinda.
Before we start, let me lay down a few of the ground rules for making good beef stew.
1. It don’t come from no can!
2. It canNOT canNOT canNOT be rushed.
3. Red wine is a must.
4. Homemade french bread is also a must. And that tutorial is forthcoming!
Have you absorbed and internalized those rules? If so, then we can begin.
You’ll need 3-4 lbs. beef stew meat, depending on your preference.
Plus a rainbow of wholesome, delicious vegetables. (We’ll count red wine in that category since it is derived from fruit.)
3 carrots, 2 potatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, 4 stalks of celery, 1/2 bag of frozen corn, 1/2 bag of frozen peas, 1 small onion. Also salt, pepper, flour, olive oil, and butter.
In the realm of spices, herbs, and other flavoring agents, you’ll need the following:
(It’s not cheating to use seasoning mix. Using a can is cheating. You could mix these spices yourself but are simply choosing to buy them pre-mixed… SO okay with me.)
Make sure you have a large skillet and a large stew pot or dutch oven ready and waiting.
And begin by preparing all that glistening meat. 🙂
The beef will have some fat… and that’s a good thing. You just want to snip off any especilly hard or offensive pieces.
Like this one.
Or this one. Ick! I’m totally offended.
And I’m just going to go out on a limb here and guess that, like me, many of you don’t use a private butcher every time you cook. Maybe I’m wrong. But if your Wal-Mart or Kroger butcher hasn’t meticulously cut these pieces into uniform one-inch cubes, you might have a few oversized pieces in the mix.
Just snip those big pieces in half (or even threes.)
Now, the beef in beef stew is characteristically tender and savory. That takes a bit of TLC. You can’t just fry it up because that would make it tough. And you can’t just boil it because it’d basically be gray. You’ve got to do both.
So we’ll start by letting the meat sear and develop a hearty crust, and we’ll simmer it later.
Take two plates (or one large glass baking dish) and sprinkle in about an inch of flour, like so.
Now toss the meat pieces around in the flour to give them a nice, light coating.
Melt a little butter and olive oil in your large skillet. I happen to know that I’ll have to sear my meat in two stages, but if you have a bigger skillet than this, use it!
Over medium high heat, drop in your meat and try to end up with just one layer. If it’s starting to pile up, do it in two batches. Drop in in and then DON’T TOUCH IT for a few minutes. You’re letting it develop and crust, and that won’t happen if you start stirring it the second it hits the pan.
See? These pieces just weren’t going to fit.
So I didn’t force them. They had to wait.
After a few minutes. Give the meat pieces a flip. Just once.
This is what you’re looking for.
After both sides have had a few minutes to brown up, it’s time to add the wine. Wine de-glazes the pan, getting all the flavorful brown bits up off the bottom. Plus the flavor it adds to the stew is just incredible. Don’t leave it out, that’s all I can say.
Pour in a good two cups (after you’ve enjoyed a nice sample yourself.)
Bring it to a simmer.
Then stick a lid on it and leave it for ten minutes. It’ll simmer like this on medium low while you do some chopping.
Head over to your chopping board and grab the onion, garlic, and celery.
We’ll start with the onion.
Chop off the root and the tip. Check out that juice! Did you know a good onion will give off a bit of milk like this?
I remember reading a poem about it in a college Spanish class about this mother who was so poor she had to put onion milk in her baby’s bottles. Weird. And depressing.
Chop off the amount you want to use. My onion was big so I used about 2/3 of it.
Now lay the onion on its flat side and slice it into rainbow-like strips first.
Then, proceed to cut those strips crosswise and you’ll end up with a perfect dice! Mince up your garlic too… but keep it separate from the onion for now.
Now, grab four stalks of that lovely celery.
And split them lengthwise down the center.
Then give them a rough chop. Don’t bother throwing away the leaves… they’re delicious!
Throw a few tablespoons of butter and a few tablespoons of olive oil into your stock pot and begin to melt it down over medium high heat. Excuse my beef droplets, I didn’t bother changing spoons. Oops.
Onion goes in first! For about 3 minutes.
Then the garlic! For about 1 minute.
And next that gorgeous meat.
Scrape in every last drop.
Cover the meat with water almost to the top of the pot.
I know. It looks gross at this point.
Go ahead and help it out by adding the celery…
the seasoning mix…
the bouillon cubes…
and 2 bay leaves.
Whew! The color is much richer now. Thank goodness.
Bring it all to a low boil.
And let it do its thing. For TWO hours. I mean it.
Set a timer and go occupy yourself somewhere. Work out. Paint your nails. Watch TV. Read. But don’t just stand there watching it and waiting to eat it. It can’t be rushed. I’ve done this before and served it too early and payed the price. The meat needs this time to tenderize.
Here we are about an hour in. It’s definitely getting there.
Oh and the smell filling your house at this point is pretty darn amazing. As in, your grandma might come back from the dead and your neighbor’s dog might take up permanent residence under your kitchen window.