Beef Stew: Not Your Average Garden Variety

When was the last time you had a really memorable serving of Beef Stew?

Not those childhood memories of the school cafeteria lunch special or your parents forcing you to finish your plate.

The memory where fragrant aroma captures your senses and lures your attention down just as the bowl is set before you. At first glance, the contents remind you of an idyllic little vegetable patch. Bright green spring peas, vibrant baby carrots, porcelain new potatoes all seem to sprout from fertile brown earth.

The serving is harmonious and pastoral. You resist the urge to dig in but the temptation is too great. Your fork has already begun the harvest. Each morsel is gently picked and cradled all the way to your mouth.

Rich, warm gravy seeds your palate. Savory, sweet, salty all sprout up and flourish but never become overgrown and unruly.

Marbled buds of beef bloom from the bite. Their seared outer shells resist a little, then shreds apart under the gentle pressure.   A Blossom of Spring Peas follows.

The Carrots are so sweet you decide to forgo dessert. Billowy potatoes float by, collecting each flavor and whisking them off. Anticipation builds for the next bite.

Your lips are left sticky and glistening. You purse them slightly, draw them in and drag your tongue across for one last taste.

The bowl is empty now. A few streaks of gravy remain where the fork dredged the bottom. For one fleeting moment, you think about picking it up and licking it clean. Then you remember an entire pot waits on the stove.

Your parents were right. Finishing your plate helped you grow.

Beef Stew Recipe

Serves 4-6

Truly memorable stew can only be achieved by using high quality, natural ingredients, developing a strong base of flavors and not overcooking the individual components. Most stews made solely from floured beef cubes and canned broth tends to be bland and pasty. This recipe utilizes roasted beef bones and anchovies as flavor enhancements. The vegetables are added sequentially based on cooking time. This ensures they stay crisp and appetizing.

The Beef bones contribute a gelatinous quality to the stew and help create a rich, complex flavor. Try to include at least one marrow bone and a few pieces of knuckle bone. Have your butcher cut them into 2-3 inch pieces. The stew base will become silky with the additional of rendered marrow. The knuckle bones will add collagen.

Anchovies are the other flavor component. Using salted fish to flavor a beef dish might seem counter-intuitive but remember, classic steak sauces such as Worcestershire all contain anchovies. They are rich in glutamates which create a savory quality known as “Umami”.   It is widely considered to be the fifth basic taste along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

 

Ingredients

  • Eight ounces of Beef bones cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds Beef Chuck trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-2” cubes.
  • 3 Tablespoons of Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced from root to stem
  • 3 cloves garlic minced fine
  • 4 oil packed Anchovy fillets mashed to a paste
  • 3 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
  • ¼ cup All Purpose flour
  • 3-4 Medium-size Carrots Scraped and cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups rich beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 pound  pearl onions, blanched, outer skins removed and trimmed.
  • 1 pound of waxy potatoes (such as Red Bliss or Yukon Gold) peeled and cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1 – Roast the Bones

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat bones lightly with vegetable oil and place in roasting pan.
  • Roast until nicely browned (about 45 minutes to one hour).
  • Remove from the oven, drain rendered fat, set aside.
  • Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Step 2 – Sear the Beef

  • Heat a Dutch oven over a medium high flame.
  • Make sure meat is dry (Blot with paper towels if necessary).
  • Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper.
  • When the Dutch oven is hot, add the 3 tablespoons of oil.
  • Sear meat in batches. Remove from pan when Browne on all sides.

Step 3 – Create Stew Base

  • Add the sliced onions to Dutch oven and sauté over medium heat until translucent.
  •  Combine garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste. Add to onions and stir until they are  evenly coated.
  • Add the meat and any accumulated juices.
  • Stir until the meat becomes completely coated with the tomato paste mixture.
  • Add the carrots. Stir until they become evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the mixture in the pan. Stir until no trace of raw flour can be seen.
  • Raise heat to medium high and add the wine. Stir constantly until the mixture becomes thick and smooth.
  • Simmer for a few minutes and then add the beef stock, beef bones, bay leaves and thyme. Stir to incorporate.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and place Dutch oven in the preheated oven.

Step 4 – Add Pearl Onions

  • Remove the stew from the oven after it has been simmering for about one hour. Skim off as much of the fat from the surface as possible.
  • Add the pearl onions. Stir gently to combine.
  • Place the cover back on the Dutch oven and return to oven. Continue cooking for another half hour.

Step 5 – Add Potatoes

  • Add the potatoes to the stew after the pearl onions have been simmering for about an hour (The stew will have been simmering for about an hour and a half hour at this point).
  • Simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes until both the onions and potatoes are tender (Total cooking time should be around 2 – 2 ½ hours).

Step 6 – Add Peas

  • Add the peas at the very end of the cooking process. They will only need 10 to 15 minutes to cook through.

Step 7 – Finish the Stew

  • Remove from the stew from the oven when the meat is tender and the potatoes and onions can be easily pierced with the tines of a fork or a toothpick.
  • Carefully remove and discard the bones, bay leaves and thyme branches.
  • Check for seasonings. Add salt and/or pepper to taste.
  • Serve over buttered egg noodles sprinkled with parsley.

 

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Categories: Beef, Entrees, Recipes

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3 Comments on “Beef Stew: Not Your Average Garden Variety”

  1. April 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi,Being from right near the garlic caipatl of the world I am tempted to advise adding more garlic and calling it Garlic Stew with Beef.Since it is a stew and I assume it will cook for some time it should be no problem. If you simmer the stew for an hour the garlic flavor will soften considerably.You can also add a handful of chopped parsley. There is a chemical in the parsley that mutes the garlic flavor. In French cooking a Persillade is garlic chopped with parsley and served raw as a flavoring.

    • May 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Good tip! I will try it next time we make a batch….

      Thank you for reading our blog.

  2. philohio
    March 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    I’ve eaten so much beef stew, I’m tired of it.
    Living alone, 1 pot lasts me a week or more.
    Always cooked it on the stove top, bones in the toaster oven, when I can find them, then combined.

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