Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Ultimate Beef Stew

Last week it was rainy and gross out. I thought this would be the perfect week to make a stew. I've always felt that stews warm you're whole body up and make you feel cozy - the ultimate comfort food. As I looked through my backlog of recipes, I came across Tyler Florence's recipe for beef stew. Once again, he did not fail to impress me with his combination of ingredients.

The Ultimate Beef Stew
courtesy of Tyler Florence

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast boneless)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended: Burgundy) - I used Merlot and it tasted fine, too
8 fresh thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups beef stock
9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
1/2 of a red onion, sliced
1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2
1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh

1/2 pound frozen corn
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
Horseradish Sour Cream, recipe follows, for garnish
Toasted Peasant Bread, recipe follows, for serving

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle with olive oil and add a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream. Right before serving add a slice of Toasted Peasant Bread, half way submerged in the stew.

Chef's Notes
I didn't make the horseradish sour cream, or the Peasant Bread. Instead, I served the dish over egg noodles. The dish was really good. My only complaint was that the gravy was not thick enough to cover the noodles. On night number two, when we had it as leftovers, I added a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it up a little, which worked out well. It covered the noodles and still tasted great.

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