Living in Houston, you end up dealing with a lot of crazy weather. From humid, 100 degree summers to torrential rainstorms that seem to appear at random, I put up with a lot because, as crazy as the weather can be, Houston is a pretty awesome place to live. But freezing cold temperatures? Absolutely not, Houston.
Now if you live anywhere north of Austin, feel free to roll your eyes at me. The thing is, I hate being cold with a passion. I’m the crazy lady, who even in the dead heat of a Texas summer, will bring a sweater to a restaurant for fear of the AC.
So when Houston got a random cold front this past weekend that brought 30 degree temperatures, I did what any sane person would do. I put on all my sweaters, said a few prayers to the Houston weather gods (who I feel like are drunk 85% of the time), and made enough stew for a small army. Whether you live in the great, white North or in balmy South Teas, this recipe for beef stew will keep you toasty warm no matter how cold it gets.
Beef Stew, serves 6
- One 3 lb. chuck roast, trimmed and cubed (you can also just use beef stew meat. I just like this particular cut for stews)
- 2-4 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 Cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 2 Cups chopped carrots
- about 3/4 of a pound of Mini potatoes (or Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1 “ cubes)
- 2 cloves Garlic, crushed with a garlic press or minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 4 cups chicken stock
- sprigs fresh thyme
- chopped parsley
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Optional: 1, 8 oz. container of mushrooms, chopped and sautéed in butter (if you let them simmer with the stew they would turn to weird, unrecognizable mush. Yum).
- 2-3 teaspoons of Kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1 Dutch oven or large pot
- awooden spoon
- spare bowl for meat
1) Mix together your flour and tomato paste. This will act as your roux, or thickening agent, for the stew.
2) With your Dutch oven on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pot. Brown your beef in batches (overcrowding will steam the beef rather than caramelize the outside of it, which is the whole point of browning. Remember: Well Browned Meat=Deliciousness. That’s a for real math equation). You also may need to add a little more oil to the pan between batches (about ½ a tablespoon to 1 tablespoon or so). When all your meat has browned set it aside in a bowl.
3) Turn off the heat. Using a paper towel, gently sop up any excess oil/fat/albumin being careful not to dislodge any caramelized bits left on the bottom of your pot. Those caramelized bits are basically magic flavor crystals that add a lot of flavor to you stew.
4) Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to your pan. Over medium low heat, add your carrots, onion, and thyme sprigs to the pot and sauté them until the onions just begin to turn translucent. Make sure that as your sautéing you are also scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon. This helps coat your veggies in the previously mentioned magic flavor crystals, which makes them taste like awesomeness.
5) Add your minced garlic along with a teaspoon of salt and stir for about 15 seconds. Add your roux of tomato paste and flour coating the vegetables in the paste. Let the veggies and roux cook for about 2 minutes to help cook off that raw flour flavor.
6) Add your wine. Turn the heat up to medium-high until your wine begins to just boil and then turn the heat back down to low. This is called “simmering.” TA-DA! Let the veggies and wine simmer for about 3 minutes in order to burn off some of the alcohol.
7) Add your Balsamic Vinegar and broth to your mixture. Once again, bring the mixture up to a simmer by turning the heat to medium-high. Turn the heat back down to low when the liquid just begins to boil.
8) Add your meat and potatoes. Cover the pot and let the mixture simmer on low heat for about an hour and half, checking/stirring the mixture about every 30 minutes.
9) When the liquid has thickened slightly and the vegetables and meat are tender, take the lid off and cook the stew for about 5 minutes.
10) Add your peas and mushrooms (if using). When the mushrooms and peas are heated through (about 2 minutes) then the stew is done. Turn off the heat, taste for salt and pepper (and make any necessary adjustments), and finish off with some fresh parsley.
10) Serve in a bowl with a crusty piece of bread and have a meal that warms your bones and fills your stomach.
Cookies and Salt Note: This stuff reheats really well. I recommend making a lot and freezing any left overs for future cold, winter nights (or future warm, winter nights depending on where you live). To serve, simply thaw over night and reheat either in a microwave or in a pot on the stove.
Disclaimer: I received nothing for writing this post. Except stew. You know, because I made it and then was like “what do I do with all this stew?” And then I laughed ‘cause it rhymed and then I ate it. The end.