Basic Beef Stew

Adapted from this Irish Beef Stew recipe which I found disappointing but the fundamentals are the same. I tweaked a few things and by the 3rd version I had something I really liked. Please comment/critique, I’m sure it can be improved.

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1 or 2-inch pieces (the folks at the meat counter will often be willing to cut it up for you, just tell them it’s for stew).

½ cup flour. Almost any kind of wheat flour will work combined w/ a a pinch of salt and pepper (don’t worry too much about the amount and err on the low side. You can add more seasoning later if it’s bland).

6 large garlic cloves, minced (or chopped or whatever, just not whole cloves.)

4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth (I use one of those brick-shaped tetrapacks).

1 cup dry red wine or stout (your glass is a nice place to put any extra)

2 tablespoons tomato paste (this matters so get paste, not sauce. The can costs $1.49 and if you throw it in the freezer after this batch of stew you won’t have to remember to buy the damn stuff next time)

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (more is fine too, who doesn’t love butter?)

3 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (russets are baking potatoes).

1 large yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups of 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots (I hate cooked carrots and usually use 1 cup, but people who like carrots tell me that they wish there were more. I’ve tried leaving them out but they add an earthy sweetness that I like).

Preparation

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Toss beef in flour mixture (putting it all in a paper or plastic bag and shaking it works well), place in pot and sauté until brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Some of the flour will create a crust on the bottom of the pot, this is good. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil and use a spatula to gently scrape the crust off the bottom of the pot.. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. (Depending on how you like your stew you may need to add more liquid during this part, stock or water are both fine). Discard bay leaves. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer or heat in microwave before serving. Put in bowls and eat!

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