Growing up, Sunday suppers were a big deal in our house. The meal almost always revolved around meat (though once there was a poorly received tofu lasagna) and potatoes. She’d start preparing the meal early in the morning and when I’d wake up, she’d enlist my help to peel the potatoes and carrots, chop the onions or in the case of beef stew, flour and season the stewing beef. Beef stew is a huge comfort dish from my childhood and something that was prepared only once or twice a year, though I would have gladly eaten it once a week. We were all a huge fan of the boeuf bourguignon, which is how it was known in my household.
I don’t cook a lot of meat in our house, but when I spied some nice looking stewing beef at my local butcher, I figured that turning it into a comforting beef stew would make an ideal fall supper. Baby potatoes, local carrots, fresh herbs and a big ol’ onion melt down with the help of some good red wine and beef stock. It’s a dance of comforting proportions.
Slow cooker update: A lot of you asked in the comments about a slow cooker and I don’t have one, so I couldn’t advise. However, Nicole, who blogs at Dula Notes, says that this stew is great in a slow cooker cooked on low for 10 hours. Thanks Nicole for the great tip!
But the real kicker here is the gremolata. Now don’t get all uppity about gremolata because it’s simply a fancy word for some freshly chopped herbs, lemon zest, sea salt and a small drizzle of olive oil. It seems humble enough, but when scattered over top the hot bowl of stew, it releases some seriously delicious scents and flavours.
elsewhere: Pop on over to Poppytalk if you fancy a quick and hearty vegetarian meal – a golden lentil dal with ginger & orange.
beef stew with gremolata
2 T canola oil
1/3 c flour
salt & pepper
1 lb stewing beef
1 large onion, large dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 carrots, cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 bottle good red wine
3 c beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 T fresh rosemary leaves
2 large potatoes, cubed
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Dump the flour onto a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef cubes in flour. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add in oil. Brown the beef on all sides – be sure not to over crowd the pot or else the beef won’t brown easily. And browning here is all important, so brown each piece well (but don’t burn!) in batches until all the beef is browned. Remove beef and set aside.
2. Add in onion and additional oil if needed and saute until coated in oil and starting to get soft – you want to stir frequently and try to grab all those bits at the bottom of the pot. Add in the garlic and carrots and stir that around too. Pour in the wine and now is your chance to truly loosen all those particles hanging out at the bottom. When you’ve got the bottom clean, add in the beef broth, bay leaves, rosemary and browned beef cubes and bring the whole shebang to a boil. Add in potatoes, cover pot and place in oven.
3. Let cook in oven covered for 2 hours, giving a stir occasionally. Reduce heat to 200F and cook for another 2 hours, still keeping the pot covered. The liquid will have reduced considerably but there should still be a good gravy. The vegetables will be tender and the beef should be melt-in-your-mouth. Ladle into bowls, serve with red wine and a good rustic loaf of bread. Top each bowl off with a spoonful of the gremolata. Serves 4.
1 large handful of parsley, finely chopped
1 large stem of rosemary, stems removed + finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
tiny drizzle of olive oil
pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients into a small dish and serve a spoonful over top each bowl of stew. Also, really tasty mixed in with salad or coleslaw.