30 December 2011
Beef stew, the old-fashioned kind, is the perfect wintertime comfort food meal. Well-browned organic grass-fed beef gives it a depth of flavor that requires nothing more than the simplest ingredients to make a soul-satisfying stew.
Rod at Rocky Mountain Organic Meats kindly sent* me a chuck roast that I decided to make into a stew. I had thought I might make Boeuf Bourguignon, and I always cut up the meat for that myself. If I had known I was going to be more in the mood for an old-fashioned stew, I might have used their precut stew meat instead. The beef was, as my husband said, so much better than conventional (supermarket) beef, very tender and flavorful.
*And, in case you are new to Delightful Repast, I always mention when a product was given to me and I always give my true and honest opinion of any products I mention in my blog. I turn down far more product offers than I accept, usually because the product is not something I would ever use or recommend.
The beef and lamb from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats are 100% grass-fed, grass-finished and certified organic. No hormones. No antibiotics. No grain. No GMO feed. No irradiation. No feedlots where deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrive. Rod is dedicated to environmentally friendly agriculture practices, healthy land stewardship and--most important to me--the ethical treatment of animals. The animals are allowed to roam free and are treated humanely.
Notice the photo is of a plate of stew. All my life I had a bowl of stew. But my husband, being neither English nor Southern, is not an "it's all about the gravy" kind of guy and prefers to have stew on a plate. Where do you stand on this important issue: bowl or plate?!
(Serves 8 to 10)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 to 3 1/2 pounds lean beef chuck, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, chopped (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups beef or chicken broth
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups drinkable dry red wine or water
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 medium carrots (1 pound), peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
4 stalks celery (8 ounces), sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 to 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 In 5.5-quart Dutch oven (I use a Le Creuset 5.5-quart enameled cast-iron French oven), heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. You will brown the beef in 4 batches.
2 Dry the beef cubes a batch at a time with paper towels, add to hot oil and brown very well in single layer, sprinkling with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Transfer browned beef to large bowl. Repeat three times.
3 Adding another teaspoon of olive oil if needed, sauté chopped onion until soft. Add to browned beef in bowl.
4 Over medium heat, heat butter and whisk in flour, cooking about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Whisk in broth. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. Stir in tomato paste. Add browned beef and onions to Dutch oven.
5 Add wine, water, ketchup (I know, I know, but I promise it adds a certain something and doesn't taste at all ketchupy), marjoram, crushed red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper to Dutch oven. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
Note: And, since you have a few minutes before you need to prepare the carrots and celery, you can read my stew-related story, Life Lesson in a Flame-Colored Pot.
6 Add carrots and celery. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
7 Add the potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. During last 10 minutes, thicken with a mixture of 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 cup water; taste and adjust seasoning.