Hawaii was in the midst of a cold snap last week and I felt the need for a warm, comforting, delicious stew. And by cold snap I mean a low of 68° with a wind chill factor of 67°. Yeah, we’re a bunch of whiny weather wusses over here. I actually feel put-upon when I need to wear long-sleeves and turn off my ceiling fan. To be clear, I grew up in New York City so I know what real cold is, but after 27 years of living here I’ve officially joined the weather wuss ranks.
For those of you with real cold to deal with – I think you’ll enjoy this delicious, vegetable-laden stew. It’s great party food because you can make it 2 days ahead of time and the flavors just get better. A beef dish is always nice right about now, before the Thanksgiving poultry onslaught.
Stews are generally thickened with flour or cornstarch. In this recipe, pureeing the vegetables does a wonderful job of creating a luscious, gluten free, low carb sauce without the starchy additives. Caramelized roasted vegetables makes this stew even more tasty and good for you.
A heartfelt “thank you!” to Julia Child for her wonderful Beef Bourguignon recipe and the inspiration for this dish.
- For the Stew:
- 3 1/2-4 pounds beef chuck or top round, cut into cubes 1 1/2 to 2 inches
- 4-6 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or refined coconut oil for frying meat
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 8 ounces bacon or lean salt pork, diced (optional)
- 5-6 cups red wine
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt to taste
- For the Added Vegetables:
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 bags (14 ounces each) frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 1 pound mushrooms (can keep stems on), halved or quartered if large
- 6-8 carrots, cut in 1/2" rounds
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- Brown the meat:
- Dry meat chunks with paper towels because wet meat won't brown. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stove-top and oven-proof pot with a lid (also called a Dutch oven) and turn heat to medium high. When very hot, but not smoking, add as many pieces of meat as will fit in 1 layer without crowding. Brown on 2 sides. Transfer pieces to a plate and continue until all meat has been browned.
- Cook Vegetables:
- Add additional oil or butter to the pot, if necessary (not necessary if using bacon or salt pork). Put in the onions, carrots, and bacon or salt pork (if using) and cook, stirring and adjusting heat so it doesn't burn, for 3 to 4 minutes to brown lightly. Keep in the pot.
- Add wine to the pot and scrape up any little stuck bits. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and a little salt. Add reserved beef and any liquid that has been thrown off. Stir gently to combine.
- Preheat oven to 325°. Bring pot to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover and put in oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the meat is tender when tested with a fork. Baste and gently stir twice during that time.
- Finishing the Stew:
- Remove pieces of beef with a slotted spoon and reserve on the side. Remove and discard bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, blend liquid so that the cooked vegetables get pureed into the sauce, thickening it. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can strain the vegetables out of the sauce, pulverize them (add a little sauce if necessary) in a food processor, and then add them to the sauce and stir in.
- Return the beef to the sauce and taste and correct for salt. May be made up to this point 2 days ahead of time. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
- Cook the Additional Vegetables:
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Roast the onions: Place oven rack in upper half of oven. Put onions on a rimmed baking sheet. Coat with 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (I use my hands) and roast for 25-30 minutes or until brown. No need to stir.
- Roast the carrots and mushrooms: Repeat the process above with the carrots and mushrooms. I have baking sheets which fit side-by-side in the oven, which is handy for roasting 2 vegetables at once. Don't' stack the pans on different racks or the vegetables won't brown.
- Add roasted vegetables and peas to the stew. Heat on the stove top on low, stirring frequently, until heated through. Serve immediately.