Once or twice over the past years, or perhaps a few dozen times more often than that, I might have mentioned to you that the way to my husband Ted's heart is through beef stew. Each year I try to come up with a new variation for him. This French-style beef stew takes the best features of daube, boeuf Bourguignon, and boeuf aux carottes (without the carrots), and mashes them together. And yes, a whole bottle of good red wine poured into the pot coaxes all of the ingredients into perfect harmony. I like to use frozen pearl onions, which are already peeled and need no further fussing, and peas with their bright, flash-frozen flavor of summer. Yukon Gold potatoes can swap in for the red-skinned potatoes; both will hold their shape in the stew, and that's what you want. Right before I pack up the kitchen for our move next week, I'm going to make a batch of this stew for Ted, for Valentine's Day.
French-style beef stew with onions, mushrooms and peas
From the pantry, you'll need: all-purpose unbleached flour, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, red wine, dried thyme leaf, bacon, red wine vinegar.
Serves 6-8; can be doubled.
3 slices center-cut bacon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1-1/2 lbs stew beef, cut into 2-inch chunks (I like chuck roast for this)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and chopped
3 oz tomato paste
2 tsp thyme leaf
1 bottle red wine (approximately 4 cups)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1-1/2 lbs baby red-skinned potatoes, cut in quarters
8 oz whole mushrooms (cremini, baby bella or white), stems trimmed, quartered
8 oz frozen pearl onions
1 cup frozen peas
In a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until it's lightly browned but not crisp. Remove the strips of bacon and set aside.
To the bacon fat in the pot, add the olive oil.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Dry off the pieces of meat, and dredge lightly in flour. Brown the meat in the pot, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Make sure the meat is browned on all sides.
Add to the browned meat the garlic and leeks. Stir, and let cook for 2 minutes, until the leeks are slightly softened. Then, add the tomato paste. Stir it into the vegetables and meat. Add the thyme and the wine. Roughly chop the bacon, and return it to the pot.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours.
Taste the liquid, and add salt and pepper as needed (you will need both).
Now, add the red wine vinegar, potatoes, mushrooms and onions. Cover, and cook for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.
Stir in the peas, and cook for just a minute or two until the peas are warm. Season again with salt and pepper.
Serve hot. Or, let cool completely, and refrigerate or freeze in airtight containers.
More beef stews for the one you love:
Slow cooker honey-Sriracha beef stew, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooked beef and green chile stew, from The Perfect Pantry
Beef, ale and onion stew, from The Perfect Pantry
Crock Pot carne guisada (Latin beef stew), from Skinnytaste
Braised short rib beef stew, from How Sweet It Is
African beef and peanut stew, from The Kitchn
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