Cooks all over the world rely on the simplicity of gently simmering and transforming tough, flavorful cuts of meat into tender meals. Here’s how to create your own tender stew and add some of your own personality while you’re at it!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds stewing beef, cut in large cubes
sprinkle or two salt
lots freshly ground pepper
2 large onions cut in 8
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
2 pounds any fresh mushroom assortment (button, Cremini, Portobello, Enoki)
1 bottle (750 ml) hearty red wine
5 1/2 oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon vinegar
Add a splash of oil to the pot and toss in enough meat to make one single layer. Patiently sear the meat on all sides, turning with a fork to ensure all sides are nicely browned. This step is important as it creates the all-important deep brown flavor base for your stew! Repeat with the remaining beef until it’s all browned then return it all to the pot.
Now pile the onions, garlic and mushrooms all in the pot together. Pour in your red wine and stir in the tomato paste. Add the bay leaves and rosemary and bring the pot to a simmer.
Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and adjust your heat to the lowest possible setting that will maintain a simmer. We want all that juicy goodness to stay right in the pot. Your stew is done when the meat is tender, which will take an hour or two.
Finish your stew by stirring in the vinegar. Dish it up and share over baby spinach, your favourite pasta, potatoes or bean sprouts!
Recipe from Chef Michael’s Kitchen
© Chef Michael Smith
Freestyle Twist: It’s easy to bring the flavours of the world to this heartwarming stew. For a Mediterranean twist leave out the mushrooms, toss in some dried apricots, raisins, or figs and some nuts. To bring an Asian flair add ginger, green onion, soy sauce and Chinese 5-spice. And if your tastes run Southwestern some dried tomatoes, black beans and chili peppers will do the trick. Whatever your mood, a good stew is the perfect place to twist in some personalized flair!
There’s nothing more satisfying than a bowl full of spaghetti and meatballs and my gold standard tomato sauce. Every cook has an all-purpose tomato sauce up his or her sleeve, a perfect last-minute pasta sauce that’s just as good served without meatballs.
Braising is my favourite cooking method. I just love the way it can transform an inexpensive, tough cut of beef into a tasty tender stew. Toss in the earthy flavours of root vegetables and aromatic red wine, and you are well on your way to a rich flavour base. But the real secret to a truly memorable beef stew is patiently browning the meat.