Some of the greatest dishes of fine cuisine are also the most basic. Don’t get me wrong, as a chef and avid foodie, I do enjoy the finer things. My life would be rather uneventful without the occasional foam or gastrique sauce but I am talking about comfort food that sticks to your ribs and sustains you through the cold, seemingly endless winter days. Among the classics such as chicken soup, curry, pot roast and split pea, who could forget good ol’ beef stew.
This hearty classic has always been one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of this time of year. Stews are ancient and primal, containing all the components of a balanced meal, cooked in one pot. In tough economical times this is a perfect option for a family of any size as it is inexpensive and easily adaptable to the ingredients that you have on hand. Got more carrots than celery? No problem! Just work with what you have, the result will be a hearty meal that will warm you and your family in more ways than one.
Here is my recipe for beef stew. It’s a basic recipe and, as usual, I encourage you to make it your own. Remember, a recipe is only a guideline. Enjoy!
Hearty Beef Stew
1 ½ lbs Beef for stew (found in most grocery stores) *You can use any cut of beef you want just cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups potatoes (whatever kind you prefer) cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion
1 cup carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup celery cut into 1 inch pieces
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
2 bay leaves
10-12 cups of beef broth
¾ cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Season beef with salt and pepper and set aside to rest. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the beef until just browned, add onions and cook for an additional two minutes until softened slightly. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds directly followed by tomato paste, stirring constantly to make sure it does not scorch, for an additional 30 seconds. Add red wine and about half the broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release the caramelized layer that will have formed. Cook covered on low until the beef is tender; about 2 hours. If you are using different or more tender cuts of beef such as sirloin this could take far less than 2 hours. Stir occasionally adding broth as needed to cover your stew. Once the beef is tender add the rest of the vegetables and thyme as well as the remaining broth. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer and cook until the vegetables are fork tender. Add cornstarch and a quarter cup of cold water together, mix thoroughly to form a slurry. Stir the slurry into the stew and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
As usual, I’ve compiled some great looking events for all you foodies our there that are listed on Brown Paper Tickets! If one of these is in your neighborhood, be sure check it out!
Saturday, Oct 20
3rd Annual October Craft Beer Festival – Fort Wayne, Indiana
Signature Wine and Food Event – Columbus, Ohio
Urban Weeds and Wild Foods Part 1: Identify and Harvest – Seattle, Washington
Urban Weeds and Wild Foods Part 2: Preparing for Your Table – Seattle, Washington
Zombie Feast – Whittier, California
Taste of México: MOLE & TAMALE EXTRAVAGANZA – Petaluma, California
Sunday, Oct 21
Local Three’s 1st Annual “Roast a Fatty” Pig Roast – Atlanta, Georgia
SlBasic Knife Skills – New York, New York
April Bloomfield Presents: Paul Virant and his cookbook The Preservation Kitchen – New York, New York
Big Grove Tavern Farm to Table Dinner – Champaign, Illinois
Tuesday, Oct 30
Michael Natkin Dinner to Benefit City Fruit – Seattle, Washington