Winter calls out for beef stew: hearty, nourishing and comforting it warms us despite the snow outside the window. I like to toss together a stew in the slow cooker on a Sunday morning. Then, while we putter about or go for a drive to marvel at the frozen lake, it cooks away, building flavour, getting tender and happy and filling the house with its enticing fragrance.
This is my “standard” beef stew, and I don’t use a recipe for it. I make it more or less the same each time, but each batch varies somewhat according to what I have on hand and whim. I do like to use a fair amount of celery, and am especially happy when I have lots of the leaves as they up the celery flavour. When I made this stew last week, I kept it fairly basic and wrote down the ingredients as I went. Feel free to use it as is, or add your own special touches.
It you make variations on this recipe, do drop a note in the comments and tell me about them. I’m always looking for new ideas!
Beef Stew with Red Wine
This recipe lends itself to slow cooker cooking, but this recipe is for stove top cooking. By all means, make a double batch and freeze the leftover in dinner-sized portions; you’ll thank yourself on those days when time is short and you’re hungering for comfort food.
- 2 medium yellow cooking onions, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 red chill pepper, deseeded and minced
- 2-1/2 cups finely sliced celery, including the leaves
- 2 small carrots, cut lengthwise & thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced (I used frozen beefsteaks; you could use a 19-oz can of tomatoes and cut them up)
- 1 lb stewing beef (I prefer organic)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup beef stock (I made mine from a bouillon cube)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 bay leaf
Put the beef chunks in a plastic or paper bag or in a large bowl. Sprinkle the flour and a couple gratings of pepper over and toss until the pieces are lightly and fairly evenly coated. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, then use tongs to add the floured beef. Don’t dump in the contents of the bag or bowl, or you’ll end up with too much flour in the pan. Work in batches if necessary; if the beef is overcrowded it won’t brown as effectively. When it’s browned on the bottom it will release; use the tongs to turn over. Repeat until all sides are browned. This process should only take about five minutes. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, chill pepper, celery and carrot to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes. This will begin the process of releasing the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add the red wine to finish that process.
Return the beef to the pot, scraping the drippings off the plate (don’t let any of the goodness go to waste). Stir in the beef stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper, cover the pot and turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to the lowest setting. Sprinkle the thyme and parsley over and stir. Toss the bay leaf on top, put the lid back on and let the stew simmer for a couple of hours, stirring a couple of times. About 15 or 20 minutes before serving time, taste and adjust the seasonings as required.
When it’s done the broth will be a beautiful rich brown and the meat will be fork tender.
We enjoyed ours over plain boiled potatoes, for a simple, rustic meal.
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