As cooler weather approached this year, and with a pandemic pushing us all toward comfort foods, beef stew came to mind. Then, someone suggested a recipe from NYTimes Cooking – it looked good, and easy – and I was on the way. In addition to the simplicity, the adaptability to re-use (leftovers) was a selling point. Cornbread with it is optional, but adds to the full enjoyment on the comfort spectrum. Stir some up!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lb beef stewing meat, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch (or smaller) cubes
5 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine (or you can substitute beef or mushroom stock, if wine’s not your thing)
3-1/2 cups beef broth (homemade or store-bought, though I’ve had really great success using cubed stock – and it’s got a great shelf life)
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped (again, if you are shelf-life conscious, dried onion works well)
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 large baking potatoes (or a comparable quantity of smaller potatoes), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tsp salt
Combine the flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef, and toss to coat well.
Heat 3 tsp of the oil in a large pot (I use a 5.5 qt Staub Dutch Oven – cocotte – and it works very well).
Add the beef, a few pieces at a time (don’t overcrowd). Cook, turning the pieces until browned on all sides (should take about 5 minutes per batch). Add more oil, if needed.
Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar and wine (or more stock). Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen the browned bits (fond).
Add the beef, beef broth, and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
Cover and cook, skimming the broth from time to time if need be, until the beef is tender (about 1-1/2 hours).
Add the onion and carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Add the potatoes and simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes more).
Add more broth or water if the stew appears overly dry.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe yields enough for 4 good-sized servings. If you are cooking for less than that, this stew freezes well. Just re-heat and serve.
When putting leftovers to use, you can vary the ‘presentation’ by serving over rice or pasta. You can vary the flavor profile by adding some sour cream. Lots of possibilities.