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stew3sm

It was a blustery Sunday afternoon when we went to our local market to shop for dinner. Seeing boneless chuck roast on sale for $2.00 off per pound made my choice easy. I wasn’t quite sure how I would prepare it, but thought I would buy the ingredients for a braise: onions, carrots, celery, cremini mushrooms, some fresh rosemary. The rest would depend on what I had at home in the pantry.

After returning home, I paged through my cookbooks looking for a beef-stew recipe. I found quite a few, but they almost all had one element in common: browning the beef. Typically I wouldn’t have let this step stop me from making a dish. But we had just finished a thorough cleaning of the kitchen, which albeit a small one, took more than 3 hours. I was not going to start cleaning again after dinner.

I went online and within minutes found a recipe for an easy 2-step beef stew from Martha Stewart, which to my surprise required no browning. I read the recipe several times just to make sure and indeed no browning of the meat was called for.

Because I wasn’t sure how this dish would turn out, we didn’t take photos during the prep or cooking. After tasting it however, I sincerely regretted not having done so. This stew was superb, one of the best I’ve ever made. Granted, I modified the original recipe but the meat was perfectly cooked, thoroughly browned, and the stew, comfortingly delicious.

stew2sm

Right from the oven

Beef Stew Adapted from Martha Stewart.com

Ingredients

5 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1/3 cup tomato paste; I recommend the concentrated Italian paste from a tube

4 tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound medium onions (about 2), cut into 1-inch chunks

1 pound small white or red new potatoes (about 6), well scrubbed, halved if large

1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

6 garlic cloves, smashed

3 bay leaves

1 bottle dry red wine; I used a Sangiovese blend

8 ounces cremini mushrooms

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, vinegar, and flour to form a paste.

In a Dutch oven (5-quart) with a tight-fitting lid, rub the beef with the paste; season with salt and pepper.

Add onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, and 1 bottle of dry red wine. Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and place a sheet of parchment paper the size and shape of your Dutch oven over the stew.

Cover the pot with the lid, transfer to oven, and cook until meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

After the first 2 hours add the mushrooms to the stew.

Remove bay leaves and, if desired, season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Zinfandel

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