Seeing as I was sort of on a roll with my Dutch oven, I figured I would try a beef stew.
I’ve always wanted to make a great beef stew – one that’s not soupy, but rich and meaty and lean and yummy. A lot of beef stew I’ve eaten has had meat that was fatty and gross and the stew itself was tasteless and watery.
I created this stew myself and it’s fabulous. It’s also perfect for this evil, dark, windy weather we’re having now (is it Spring yet?). Make the stew ahead of time and freeze it, and when you get home in the dark after work all it needs is to be heated up.
I’m the sort of person who can’t pass up beautiful food, and when I was at the market the other day, I saw this stewing beef that was gorgeous. My husband always laughs at me for my food descriptions, but hey – I get excited at the simple things in life, like perfectly cubed, lean, red stewing beef. And Dairy Queen ice cream, but that’s another story.
I picked up a couple of pounds of this beef and brought it home to create something with it.
I started out using just red wine, but as the stew cooked, I found that it needed something to round out the taste. So I added marsala. Marsala is an Italian fortified wine which my mom always said I needed to have in my kitchen for cooking. Well, as usual, mom was right. I added some marsala to the stew and wowza!
I love potatoes, and with beef stew they’re obviously perfect. I used those medium-sized white potatoes, and quartered them, adding them to the stew halfway so they didn’t get stew-logged and mushy. They also absorb some of the liquid.
When you take the cover off the stew at the 30 minute mark, don’t worry when you see a lot of liquid in there. It will boil off and the potatoes will absorb some during cooking.
Needless to say, my husband (The Critic) ate a huge bowl of the stew after hockey and proclaimed it to be perfect. A perfect score from The Critic deserves recognition. So here is the recipe:
2lb stewing beef, cubed
2 cups stock – I used chicken stock
1 cup red wine – cheap plonk, baby
1/3 cup marsala
5 carrots, roughly chopped
4 ribs celery, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
½ large onion, chopped
1.5lb white potatoes, quartered
2 bay leaves
3T olive oil
1/4 cup fresh tarragon (about ½ bunch), chopped
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
Salt to taste
Heat your oven to 350F.
In a Dutch oven on the stovetop, heat the olive oil.
While the oil heats, dredge the beef cubes in flour, salt, and pepper. Add them to the hot oil and brown well.
Remove the beef from the oil and set aside.
Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until slightly softened. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and tarragon and cook for another 5 mins.
Add the wine and stock and simmer for about 10 mins, then add the beef. Place the Dutch oven in the real oven and cook for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, add the marsala and the potatoes, stir, and cook for another 30-40 mins.
Beef stew! It’s awesome.