Stew from the Oven

I got this recipe years ago from the February/March 2004 Fine Cooking magazine.  It was one of those articles that gave you a template for making your own beef stew with lots of ideas for inspiration.  I love that type of recipe since I am always modifying recipes; I never do seem to make the same thing twice.  This recipe instructs you to add your veggies after the meat has cooked.  One thing I tend to do is add roasted vegetables; it really adds a different taste to the stew because you get the roasted taste and depending on your vegetables sometimes a bit of crunch.

Ingredients:

3 lbs boneless beef chuck

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil, more as needed

3 cups diced yellow onions (about 2 medium)

3 large cloves of garlic, minced, about 1 tablespoon

Seasoning (see ideas further down)

3 cups stewing liquid (see ideas further down)

4 cups prepared vegetables, about 1.5 lbs (see ideas further down)

3 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or other fresh herb

Seasonings Choose one of the following seasoning combinations

Classic: 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

Southwestern: 1/4 cup chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Italian: 2 bay leave, 1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary

Stewing liquids The stew needs 3 cups liquid; choose a combination of the following

Red wine: 1 cup red wine, 2 cups water

White wine: 1 cup white wine, 2 cups water

Orange juice and wine: 1 cup fresh orange juice, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup water

Tomatoes and wine: 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, 1 cup red or white wine, 1 cup water

Vegetables Choose a combination of 2 or 3 vegetables totaling 4 cups after any trimming or cutting.  Steam, saute, or roast the vegetables until tender.

Carrots, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, pearl onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, summer squash, eggplant

The following vegetables need no cooking before being added to the stew: frozen green beans, frozen lima beans, canned beans or chickpeas, olives (pitted, use no more than 1/2 cup)

Directions

1. Prepare the beef

Adjust a rack to the lower middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450F.  Pat the beef dry with paper towels, trim away any thick pieces of fat, and cut into one-inch cubes.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

2. Sear the beef

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy based dutch oven that 9-11 inches in diameter.  As soon as wisps of smoke rise from the pan, add a quarter of the beef cubes, taking care not to crowd the pan.  Sear the beef until two sides form an impressive dark brown crust, 8-10 minutes total.  Transfer the beef to a bowl and continue to sear the remaining beefs in batches, adding more oil to the pan if needed.  It’s fine if the pan bottom darkens, but if it smells like it’s burning lower the heat just a little.  Set all the seared beef aside in the bowl.

3. Cook the aromatics

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic to the empty pot.  If the pan looks dry, add 1 tablespoon oil.  Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the seasoning

Add the seasoning and continue to cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

5. Add the flour and liquid

Stir in the flour and then the stewing liquid.  Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot.

6. Cover tightly and cook

Lay a large sheet of heavy-duty foil over pot and, using a potholder or thick towel, press it down in the center so that it almost touches the stew and is pressed against the sides of the pot.  Crimp the foil around the rim for a tight seal.  Cover snugly with the lid.  Turn the burner to medium high until you hear juices bubble.  Put the pot in the oven and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes.

stew cover with foil

7. Cook the vegetables

Meanwhile, cook the vegetables.  Choose a combination of two or three vegeetables.

8. Add the vegetables

Remove the pot from the oven, carefully remove the foil, and stir in the cooked vegetables.  Remembering that the pot and lid are hot, cover again with the foil and lid.  Let stand so that the meat rests and the vegetables marry with the stew, about 15 minutes.

9. Adjust and serve

When ready to serve, the stew juices might need thinning to achieve a thin gravy consistency.  If so, stir in the water– 1/4 cup at a time– as needed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently reheat and serve garnished with the parsley or other fresh herb.

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