We’re sitting at the end of 2018 with a day to go before New Year’s Eve and I’ve been craving a stew. It really hasn’t been that cold in Austin to warrant making a stew, but the past couple days have been grey and chilly and I really started thinking a stew would be perfect.
You should know by now that we don’t follow recipes step by step and luckily it always turns out well. We’ve realised most measurements are only suggestions since when grandmothers would make the recipes they didn’t pull out a measuring spoon to get exactly 1/4 tablespoon of sugar or 1 teaspoon of thyme.
So, with that in mind, we set out to find a stew recipe that we wanted to loosely base our creation on. This is our second attempt at documenting our stew making process. A couple of years ago we made a pot roast stew with beer and paprika and many more vegetables. To be honest, almost all of them were so similar that I think it just comes down to using good meat, vegetables and simmering for a long time. The proportions of the different ingredients will change the ultimate flavor but I was pretty sure it would turn out great regardless of how you combined them. In the end, we selected a recipe from Once Upon a Chef as our primary source for inspiration into this afternoon project.
- 3 pounds of boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 cubes
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of red wine
- 2 cubs of beef broth (we used beef bullion)
- 2 cups of water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices on the diagonal
- 1 pound potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
- Freshly chopped parsley (optional)
Preheat your oven to 325 F and put a rack in the middle.
Pat your beef dry with a paper towel and generously season with the salt and pepper. Using a large Dutch Oven, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Then in 3 batches, brown the beef in the olive oil for about 5 minutes per batch. Turn the beef while browning with tongs and don’t crowd the beef while it’s browning. You can add a tablespoon of oil between batches if there isn’t enough grease in the Dutch oven. Once each batch is brown, transfer to a separate dish and place aside.
Once you finish your last batch of beef, put the onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar into the Dutch oven. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape off the brown bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Add your tomato paste and cook for another minute.
Add the beef and juices back to the Dutch oven with the onions and garlic mixture and sprinkle with the flour. Mix this together until the flour is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the beef broth, water, wine, bay leaves, thyme and sugar to the mixture and stir it all together. Bring to a boil then cover the Dutch oven with a lid and transfer to your preheated oven. Let it cook in the oven for 2 hours.
At the end of two hours, take the Dutch oven out of the oven and add your carrots, potatoes and celery. Stir in the vegetables and then put the lid back on the pot and place simmer for at least one hour over low heat. Cook for an additional hour, until the vegetables are tender and the meat is fall apart tender. You can place the Dutch oven back in the oven as it was done in our source recipe, however, we needed the oven to make bake some bread so we finished it on the stove top. It turned out fine.
Here are a few pictures of our process along the way.