Monday, October 3, 2011

Red Wine Braised Beef Stew

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It was a dreary, drizzly day. It was the sort of day that ragweed creeps up into your unsuspecting sinuses causing every word you utter to begin with the letter D. It was the sort of day that you have to force your feet into a pair of socks because otherwise they might get frostbitten and fall off. It was the sort of day that you want to wear your dad's biggest comfiest sweatshirt and snuggle up on top of a pile of pillows beside the roaring fireplace with a bottomless cup of coffee in your hands.

But you can't drink coffee all day. That can lead to trouble. So, I got up and slid into the kitchen.

That's the good thing about socks. They help you slide.

In the kitchen I found two lonely beef chuck roasts sitting on the counter. And that's when I knew that this day didn't have to be dismal and dreary. All it needed was a little comfort food. So, I got right to work. 

Can you see all of the flavor that that meat is soaking up? You can almost smell it right through your computer screen. Just make it. You won't even believe how good it is. I'm not even much of a meat person and I thought it was quite phenomenal. If I do say so myself.

Red Wine Braised Beef Stew

About 4 lbs. beef chuck roast or stew meat
1/2 head garlic, finely chopped
1 red onion, sliced
1 cup red wine (cheap is just as good as the nice stuff in this case, so don't waste your money)
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage 
(if you use fresh herbs, use about 1 tablespoon each. I used fresh rosemary and tarragon and dried sage and thyme)
2 cups beef stock
1/3 cup flour
5 big carrots, thinly sliced
12 oz. small white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 chopped tomatoes

Cut up the chuck roast into chunks, if that's what you're using. Throw out any huge chunks of gristle. Put the meat in big ziploc bag with the garlic, onion, wine, and herbs. Let it marinate for 1-12 hours. 
Drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and turn heat to high. Reserving the wine and herb marinade, take each chunk of meat and sear it on all sides until it's nicely browned, just a minute or so on each side. You might have to do it in batches depending on how much meat you have and how big your skillet is. Then throw it all in a crockpot with the reserved wine. Whisk the flour into the beef stock until no lumps remain. It makes it easier to combine the flour and stock if you just add a little stock at the time to the flour. Dump the stock and flour mixture into the crockpot and stir it all together. Now cover it and let it cook on high for a few hours or on low all day. The more you cook it, the more tender the meat will get. Just stir it every once in a while if you can. I think I let it go on high for about three hours and then I let it go for a few more hours on low while we went to go see Lion King 3-D (which, by the way, was the most epic thing of my life to date). 
About 1/2 hour before you're going to eat, you can prepare the vegetables. I just threw the tomatoes and peas right into the crock-pot. Then I heated up a few tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and fried up the mushrooms and carrots on high heat. They shouldn't take long if you sliced the carrots thinly. Just cook them until they're as tender as you like and they get nicely browned on the outside. Then add them to the crock-pot.

To make this stew easier to make, you can skip searing the meat and you can also skip frying the carrots and mushrooms separately.You'll just have to add the carrots and mushrooms a while before you eat. Just realize that you'll be missing out on the great flavor you get from searing. Also, feel free to add potatoes with the carrots, but remember that they're going to take a long time if you don't cut them up very thin. 

Also you could use a dutch oven for this if you want. The choice is up to you.

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