Roni’s Beef Stew

What could be better on a cold winter night than a comforting meal of melt-in-your mouth beef stew, served over a bed of eggs noodles or with garlic mashed potatoes, and lots of good bread such as challah to sop up the sauce.  We’ve been cutting back on the red meat quite a bit, mainly because we can’t grill until the Weber gets unburied- but this is a favorite Sunday night supper to enjoy by a fire in the dining room.  It’s adapted from a short ribs recipe, but I find that using a whole boneless chuck roast and cutting it into short-rib-sized pieces is way less fatty, and far more economical.  I never buy the pre-cut pieces of stew beef – they’re much too small, and you just never know how many to serve.  With this method, one or two pieces makes a serving depending on your diner’s appetite.
There are no mushrooms in this recipe as my son doesn’t care for them – but add them if you prefer – nice-size crimini mushrooms cut in half, not those flavorless white mushrooms.
INGREDIENTS:
4 pound whole boneless chuck roast, cut into pieces about 2×3″, similar to the size of a short rib
all-purpose flour seasoned with S&P for dredging
olive oil
1 medium carrot diced small + 4-5 medium carrots cut on the diagonal into 2-3″ pieces
3-4 medium-sized shallots chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium sweet onion chopped
4 garlic cloves gently smashed with the broad side of a knife (just enough to release their flavor)
1 rib celery chopped
2 cups full-bodied red wine such as Cabernet or Valpolicella
4 ounces pancetta or thick-cut prosciuttio diced small (I like the 4-ounce package of Citterio diced pancetta avilable at the market)
1/4 cup tomato paste or ketchup
2 cups beef broth (Better than Boullion is the best)
a few sprigs of thyme & rosemary tied together with kitchen string
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
1 tbps honey (or truffle honey if you have it)
1 tbps unsalted butter
1 cup or so of halved Crimini mushrooms (optional)
PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 325. Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat in 7-quart Dutch oven. Dredge the beef cubes with seasoned flour, shake off excess, and brown in batches in the pot. Don’t let them touch, or they’ll steam rather than brown. Remove to a platter or bowl. Add a bit more olive oil if necessary and saute the chopped vegetables (not the larger pieces of carrot) and the diced pancetta, stirring often, until they soften and begin to caramelize – about 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, then add the beef broth and tomato paste or ketchup, the fresh and dried herbs, and bring to a slow boil. Add the beef and all juices in the bowl, and bake covered for 2 hours. Add large carrot pieces and the mushrooms if you’re using them, and return to oven for another 30 minutes.

At this point, meat should be quite tender. Remove all solids from the pot with a slotted spoon and reduce sauce over moderately high heat to a glossy finish, adding the tbsp of honey and butter as you do this. Return beef with it’s accumulated juices to the pot.

Can be made the day before serving. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat the next day in a 300 oven for about an hour, after letting it sit out of the fridge for an hour.  Makes 8 hearty servings.

ADD NOTE
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