photo courtesy onceuponachef.com
This classic French beef stew is soul-satisfying comfort food for a cold night. The meat is slowly braised with garlic and onions in a wine-based broth until it becomes meltingly tender and enveloped in a rich, deeply flavored sauce. It takes some time to make – about an hour of active cooking – but I promise you it’s worth the effort. Aside from being delicious, it’s a one-pot meal that feeds a crowd. You can also make it a day ahead – in fact, you should because the flavor improves the longer it sits.
The most important thing is to start with the right cut of meat. You want to buy chuck roast that is well marbled, which means it should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. Stay away from meat generically packaged as "stew meat," especially if it looks lean. As someone who has fed an entire pot of leathery stew to her dog, I can guarantee you it will not get tender, no matter how long you cook it.
Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can leave out the potatoes and serve it over buttered egg noodles, or toss in some frozen peas or sautéed mushrooms at the very end. Either way, serve it with a crusty bread to sop up all the sauce. Enjoy!
Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes
3 pounds boneless beef chuck (well-marbled), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
7 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups dry red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir
2 cups beef broth (I like the Pacific organic brand)
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks on a diagonal
1 pound small white boiling potatoes (baby yukons), cut in half
Fresh chopped parsley (optional for garnish)
Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.
Pat beef dry and season salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Brown meat in 3 batches, turning with tongs, about 5-8 minutes per batch, adding one tablespoon more oil for each batch. (To sear meat properly, do not crowd the pan and let meat develop brown crust before turning with tongs.) Transfer meat to a large plate and set aside.
Add onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape brown bits from bottom of pan, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook a few minutes more. Add beef with juices back to pan and sprinkle with flour; stir with wooden spoon until flour is dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Add wine, beef broth, water, bay leaf, thyme, and sugar; stir with wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from bottom of pan and bring to a boil. Cover pot with lid, transfer to preheated oven and braise for 2 hours.
Remove pot from oven and add carrots and potatoes. Cover and place back in oven for 50-60 minutes more, or until vegetables are cooked and meat is very tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar go a long way). Let cool, then store in refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve. This stew improves in flavor if made at least o ne day ahead. Reheat, covered, over medium heat or in a 350°F oven. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef, a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching her blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back of the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.
She has also done private catering and restaurant public relations. Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine.