taking the 'ew' out of stew

Sunday, January 30, 2011

How come when people are "stewing" it's a bad thing? But that beef stew is so delicious?

It got me thinking about how many cooking words have negative connotations...

When he stood me up I was steamed.

My goose is cooked!

Our relationship was strained.

I went in for that meeting and they grilled me.

(I put them in contextual sentences for you. You're welcome:))

I'll tell you one thing: there is nothing agitating or anxiety-ridden about this stew.

This stew is worth making for the smell alone. Lord! You'll want to get in there and splash around in it. And how can any dish be wrong when there's a whole sexy bottle of wine inside of it? You with me?

Beef Stew (adapted from Tyler Florence)
serves 6

3 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2" cubes
12 fresh thyme sprigs
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
zest of 1 orange
a few whole cloves
1 t whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 bottle dry, full-ish bodied red wine (one that you'd feel great drinking)

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T unsalted butter
s and p
4 cups beef broth

2 cups red pearl onions, blanched and peeled (a word about how to do this is below...)
8 new potatoes, halved
3/4 pound baby carrots
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into thirds
pinch of sugar
1/2 pound frozen peas
handful of chopped fresh parsley
handful of chopped fresh chives

Marinate the meat for at least 5 hours and up to overnight: open a big ziploc bag inside a large bowl (so it'll be easy to fill and in the fridge you can safeguard for leaks) and into it place the meat, half of the thyme, the 2 carrots, garlic, orange zest, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and wine. Squish it around and refrigerate. If you think of it, go back and squish it around again a couple hours later.

When you're ready to start cooking, take the meat out of the marinade (for the love of All That's Good keep the marinade!) and blot it off really well with paper towels, salt and pepper it and let it sit 20 minutes or so so it comes almost to room temperature.  

Heat a heavy-bottomed dutch oven to medium-high heat and add the butter and olive oil. Brown the meat in batches evenly on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. (Hot tip: Don't move it around a lot even though that feels productive. If you leave it alone, you'll let the meat caramelize and get that great crust on it.) After you've browned all the meat, return all of it into the pan, along with the strained marinade and a bit more s+p. Scrape up all the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef broth, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered (to thicken it a bit) for about 20 minutes. Then cover, reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 2 hours.

While that stew is stewing, a word about pearl onions:  Bring some water to a boil (in a medium saucepan) and throw those onions in there, skins and all for about 2 minutes, no more. Drain. You can put them into an ice bath here to stop the cooking but I didn't. Just let them cool a second and then slice off the root end. Then (this is cool!) you can just squeeze the other end and they pop right outta their skin! Easy peasy!

After 2 hours, uncover the pot and add the baby carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, pearl onions, and the rest of the thyme. Throw in a pinch of sugar to balance out the wine's acidity. Stir it up and simmer another 30-45 minutes. If your sauce is thin, keep the pot uncovered to thicken it. If your sauce is thick already, keep it covered.  

Check to make sure the veggies are tender and then in the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas, parsley and chives.

Serve to any person that is stewing and they will calm right down and gain delicious clarity.


  1. You had me at "one bottle of wine."
    You lost me at "marinate for five hours."
    Susan xo

  2. Let me tell you something - I dig this recipe. It's really that simple. I dig it like a ditch.


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