The flavor of this beef stew is what makes it stand out. Layers of flavor are developed in the stew by browning both meat and vegetables. The brown bits left in the bottom of the pan make the gravy rich. In the past I used to dredge meat in flour and then brown it. Sometimes the flour would burn. In this recipe the flour is added at a later stage. These three things, browning the meat and vegetables plus adding the flour later make a huge difference in the flavor and richness of the stew.
1 ½ pounds stew meat, fat trimmed and cut in 1 inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion cut in wedges
6 medium carrots cut on the diagonal in 1 ¾ inch pieces
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup pinot noir (red wine)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cans Campbell’s beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
1 pound yellow small potatoes, cut in half or 3 inch by 2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Season stew meat with salt and pepper. (I know it is tempting to brown all the meat at the same time but the meat will steam and not brown. If the meat doesn’t brown you won’t have any brown bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan to flavor the gravy. It takes about six minutes to brown each half of the meat. Twelve minutes makes a world of difference in the flavor!) Heat ½ tablespoon oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add half of meat and cook until brown on all sides. Remove meat from pan and add ½ tablespoon oil. Brown the other half of the meat on all sides and remove from pan.
Add 1 teaspoon oil, onion and carrots to pan. Stir frequently for 4 to 6 minutes and brown vegetables. Add garlic. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add pinot noir. Scrape the bottom of the stockpot to loosen all the brown bits while simmering the wine for 10 to 12 minutes or until the liquid is almost evaporated. Whisk together flour and ½ cup beef broth and add to the pot. Stir. Add tomato paste, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and peppercorns. Stir. Add remaining beef broth. Bring to a boil. Cover pot with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer stew for 35 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer for another 30 minutes or until done. Add vinegar. Stir and serve.
Published in The News and Neighbor on December 28, 2016