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Beef Stew

Beef stew is another one of the first recipes I ever learned to cook, and the first thing I cooked for my husband when we were dating. My mother taught me how to make it; it’s a simple and warming comfort classic, especially delicious on crisp cold nights with a slice of baked bread to sop up the juices. The trick to this dish is to layer the flavors; build the base flavors with a mirepoix, brown the meat, legalize the pan, and braise the meat low and slow until tender. 

The mirepoix veggies you started with will be mush at this point since they’ve cooked so long; this is why we wait to add the veggies to the stew in a second stage of cooking. The mirepoix veggies are the veggies that contribute to the flavor of the dish, while the veggies added later contribute to the “bite” of the dish.  At the end of the cook time, add the vegetables to the stew and you get veggies that are tender and cooked through but still maintain their shape.

I like to make this dish when I have a lazy day and can check on my dish from time to time. It’s an especially nice dish to make if I have a few projects going on in the kitchen; it sits happily on the back burner, only needing my attention here and there. Minimal effort, maximum reward. Enjoy!

1 1/2 pound cubed chuck steak
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley, reserving extra for garnish
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth (no salt or low sodium)
4 - 5 small gold potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium rutabaga, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fish sauce
parsley for garnish

Mix together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the beef cubes into the flour mixture and shake off the excess.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. 

Add the meat pieces to the oil and cook them on all sides until well browned. Add the onions and remaining flour to the meat and oil. Cook for about a minute, until the flour is no longer raw and is becoming browned. Add the tomato paste and cook another 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the carrots, celery, sage, thyme, bay leaves and cook for another minute. Add the broth and mix well. 

Cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender. Add the potatoes, carrots and rutabaga, and cook for another 45 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Add the fish sauce. Fish out the the bay leaves, sage and thyme.Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with fresh parsley on top. 


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