Monday, November 3, 2008

The Ultimate Beef Stew

Cook Time: 3 hour
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 4-6 servings


* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 to 3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
(this cut is also called chuck shoulder pot roast and chuck roast
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended: Burgundy)
* 8 fresh thyme sprigs
* 6 garlic cloves, smashed
* 1 orange, zest removed in 3 (1-inch) strips
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 1/2 cups beef stock
* 9 small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
* 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
* 2 cups frozen pearl onions, a large handful
* 1 pound white mushrooms, cut in 1/2
* 1/2 pound garden peas frozen or fresh
* Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
* Horseradish Sour Cream, recipe follows, for garnish
* Toasted Peasant Bread, recipe follows, for serving


Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high
heat with the oil and butter.

While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season
the cubed beef with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then
toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the beef
chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over
crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all
of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove
it to a plate and reserve.

Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the
bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all
those tasty bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat,
thyme, smashed garlic, orange zest strip, ground cloves, freshly
ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and beef stock.
Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer
and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20
minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, pearl onions and
mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from
the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30
minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Add the frozen
peas during the last minute of cooking. Season with salt and pepper
and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl, garnish with parsley, drizzle
with olive oil and add a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream. Right
before serving add a slice of Toasted Peasant Bread, half way
submerged in the stew.

Horseradish Sour Cream:

* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
* Olive oil
* Salt and pepper
* Chives, finely chopped, as garnish

Combine sour cream, prepared horseradish and a drizzle of olive oil in
a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and
pepper. Add a dollop of the mixture on top of the stew and garnish
with chopped chives.

Toasted Peasant Bread:

* 1 loaf peasant bread, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, halved
* Chopped parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Put a sheet pan in the oven so that it gets good and hot.

Place the bread slices on the hot sheet pan. Drizzle the bread with
the extra-virgin olive oil bake for 5 minutes, until the bread is
nicely toasted. Rub the bread slices with the garlic cloves, and
discard garlic. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


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