Dinner tonight was a-maz-ing. Warm, old-fashioned, rich, savory, and homey. I just had to tell you all about it, right now, tonight, before the warm fullness in my belly is gone!
We have been feeling like making stew lately… partly for the hearty, stick-to-your-ribs-ness of it, partly because around here winter seems to be waning quickly and stew is definitely a winter-only food, and partly because one big pot will last us 3 days. That means three fewer days of “what do you wanna eat for dinner tonight?… Uh, I dunno… what do you want?” conversations around here. We tend to have this conversation on a nearly daily basis, so any day without it is welcomed!
Just so you know, this stew is not exactly simple. While it isn’t difficult, there are multiple steps that require frequent stops in your day to attend to the stew. This is not a recipe that you put in the crock pot and then forget about it until dinner. This recipe takes a little love and effort… but you will be happily rewarded for it in the end.
This stew recipe is very slightly adapted from the Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook and it has several surprising ingredients that add to the complexity and depth of flavor. It has tomato paste, fresh thyme, salt pork, red wine, and anchovies… anchovies!! Honestly, I have never in my life bought anchovies! But according to ATK it adds important glutamates to the recipe which enhance the savory, beefy flavor of the stew. I also always choose to buy my own chuck-eye roast and cut it into cubes myself because who knows what scraps they put in the pre-cut stew meat at the grocery store? It could include all different types of meat, which would lead to a less than optimal flavor. Finally, for great tasting stew, correctly browning the beef in a hot pan is essential. Browning creates those tasty, yummy browned bits on the bottom of your pan, which later get swept up with the addition of the wine, adding lots of flavor to the stew.
Tonight I paired this stew with some fresh-baked homemade buttermilk biscuits (which still need some tweaking to perfect, by the way), a few slices of Dubliner Irish Cheese (my fav! oh, yummy-yum-yum!) tucked into the stew to soften a bit just at the edge of the bowl, and a bit of the wine left over from making the stew. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow night. Soooo good!
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 4 anchovy fillets, finely minced (about 2 tsp)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 lb chuck-eye boneless roast, cut into 1½ inch pieces
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups red wine (I used a good Pinot Noir, which was recommended by ATK)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 ounces salt pork, rinsed of excess salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1½ cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 2 tsp (1 packet) unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup water
- 1½ cups frozen peas, thawed
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Combine the garlic and anchovies in a small bowl, pressing with the back of a fork to form a paste. Add the tomato paste and mix until combined. Set aside.
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels (do not season the meat). Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large Dutch Oven or saucepan over medium high heat, until oil shimmers and just begins to smoke. Working in batches, brown ⅓ to ½ of the meat at a time until all sides are well browned, about 8 minutes. Do not crowd the beef in the pan as this will cause the beef to steam in it's own juices rather than brown. Transfer browned beef to a dish and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan and brown the remaining beef. Turn the temperature down a bit if the oil begins to smoke or the fond begins to burn.
- Reduce heat to medium and add all the beef back to the pan. Add the chopped onions and carrots to the beef and cook until the onion is softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the garlic mixture, stirring constantly until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Then add the flour and stir constantly until flour is fully incorporated (about 30 seconds).
- Slowly add the red wine, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Increase the heat to high to bring the wine to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, salt pork, bay leaves, and fresh thyme. Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Scoop mixture using a ladle into a crockpot, and cook on high setting for 1½ hours. (If you are using a Dutch oven, you can simply cover and place in an oven, preheated to 300 degrees for 1½ hours).
- Using a spoon, skim any excess fat from the top of the stew. Remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and salt pork. Stir in the potatoes, cover and cook for another 45 minutes.
- Stir in the pearl onions. Cook for another 15 minutes, or until onions and potatoes are cooked through and the meat is tender. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Ladle the stew back into a soup pot to heat on the stovetop (or if using a Dutch oven, just move from the oven to the stove). Over high heat add the gelatin and peas to the stew and stir until combined. Simmer until the gelatin is fully dissolved and the stew is thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe slightly adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001/2014.