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.
Beef Stew Adapted from Martha Stewart.com
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
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