Monday, January 14, 2013

Make This. Right Now. Tonight: Best Ever Beef Stew

On all that I hold dear this is the best beef stew you'll ever eat...mostly because it's more of a boeuf bourguignon. It's a weird, Tracie-ized mashup of Julia Child's iconic recipe, Anthony Bourdain's equally fantastic version, and your standard church cookbook beef stew.


1. A tough, lean cut of meat. Chuck shoulder or anything labeled roast works well.
2. Some potatoes.
3. Onions. I like lots and lots.
4. Carrots.
5. Oil. Something with a high smoke point. Vegetable oil works well; olive would be a disaster.
6. Flour.
7. Red wine. Yes, this is the only liquid you are going to use. A bottle is about right, or four of the little cardboard things in the pic (Ingles sells them super cheap and it works well for cooking).
8. Seasonings. Fancy people will use fresh herbes de provence bundles. Cheap people will use powdered rosemary, thyme, and basil. I also like a little dill. Salt. Pepper.

Preppy Prep Prep

Turn on your oven's broiler.

Cut the beef into your desired size. I like longer pieces because I think it looks nice on a plate. Lightly flour. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Peel and dice potatoes. Don't go to small, but small enough that the potatoes will get all gloriously mushy.

Carrots. Peel. Slice. You want nice, big carrot chunks or else they'll turn to baby food in your stew. J HATES mushy carrots so I go really large.

Dice up a whole mess of onions.

Sear Like You've Never Seared Before

Put a little oil into an oven safe dish (I use an enameled cast iron pot). Put it in the oven under the broiler. Turn a stove burner on high. Let the pot heat up in the oven while your burner heats up. 

VERY, VERY CAREFULLY move the pan from the oven to the stove-top. Seriously, it is super easy to burn yourself doing this. Don't.

Just when the oil starts to smoke, add in SOME of the meat. Sear off each side, remove to a waiting plate, sear off another small batch. Small batches are key.

This is the best method I've found to achieve a hard sear on a regular household range.

Just Braisin'

Turn the heat way down, towards medium. Add the onions and seasonings. Stir constantly. After a few minutes add the wine. Then add the beef back in the pot. 

Bring it up to a boil, turn it down to a simmer, cover it...and go do something else for about an hour. I mean, something in your house needs to be spray-painted, right?

After an hour or so drift back into the kitchen. Taste broth. Adjust seasonings if needed. If there's not enough liquid from the wine and beef juices add some water or beef stock (or more wine, if you have it).

Now add the potatoes. Let them settle down and the simmering recommence. Then add the carrots. Check your liquid level again. Clamp the lid back down and go watch Downton Abbey. Check in occasionally, because cooking out all the liquid would be a shame.

At this point the beef stew should be ready. However? This dish is good at first, but AMAZING the next day. So let it come to room temperature, pop it in the fridge, and heat it up very gently the next day. If you eat the stew immediately it has all the flavor and depth of your standard first year college student. Let it sit and it becomes Auntie Mame.

You can serve it all pretty by making a bed of potatoes with a couple of carrots leaning against it and the beef on top, with some of the gravy poured over the whole thing. This is what I did, but I deleted the pictures or something (???). Bad blogger.

Y'all, this is really good. The amount of wine is the key. If you think you are using to much, go ahead and pour in some more. It's great with a spinach salad and some nice, crusty bread.


  1. This sounds great! I haven't been able to find a good recipe that doesn't include Worcestershire sauce (which is a no-no with Nate's fish allergy) I'm going to have to give this a try!

    1. It's really good! (Also, a fish allergy? Yikes.)

  2. Tracie that looks SO GOOD! I love beef stew.

  3. You let me know when you make this again, I'll be over. I'll even bring some more wine to go with your wino stew! <3


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