Beef Stew with a Twist

Sometimes we need a little comfort. In my case, a dose of comfort included some hefty nutrition. So I ventured to Costco to buy tons of great food now that I’m over the flu at last. I bought enough stuff to feed a family of six for a week!  I suppose that is the “Costco curse”.

I was happy to see USDA Choice chuck stew meat, so I bought a 4 pound packet. Then I pounced on a sack of Peru sweet onions from Bland Farms, my family’s favorite purveyor of Vidalia onions. In the blissfully chilly vegetable room I found butternut squash and a tub of crimini mushrooms. Then in the wine bins I chanced upon a very decent Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon at a reasonable $15 (normally $35).

After a visit to the Rainbow Co-op (coupon day!!) to completely pack my fridge, I started my stew, with a twist.

In my largest Dutch oven, the gorgeous 7 qt Staub pumpkin, I browned the beef very well on all sides. Four pounds of beef browned in this manner took about 45 minutes.

Picnik collage - Beef Trio (sprinkle the beef with a little kosher salt before browning, of course)

Meanwhile, I assembled the rest of the ingredients: Berkshire pork belly, carrots, celery, sweet onions, garlic, mushrooms, squash, Guinness and the Cabernet Sauvignon.
mis en place

When the beef was browned and removed, I cooked off the pork belly and reserved it. I added the mushrooms and squash and browned those well, then added everything else, plus salt, pepper, a beautiful bay leaf from Tess from the swap, and some random herbiage.
browning the mushrooms 2(quartered crimini mushrooms, browning in the pork fat. When they expressed their juice and that was reduced, I added the squash and the rest of the stew ingredients)

Off it went in the oven at 325 F to simmer gently for 3 hours. Meanwhile, I had a glass of the wine.

finished stew(yum)

The beef turned unctuous and tender in the wine and beer. The squash and onion melted in the slow braise, thickening the broth, their sweetness tempering the strong dry red wine. The richness of the Guinness mellows the broth, offsetting the wineyness. The mushrooms, carrots and celery became fork-tender, soft vegetal nuggets, perfect bite size. The broth was thickened a bit with a beurre manie, a paste of soft butter and flour, whisked onto the simmering stew. A handful of parsley at the end brightened up the flavors.

I am contemplating adding a dollop of mashed potatoes to the bottom of my wide soup plate before ladling in a scoop of rich stew. Would this be overkill, or a perfect foil to this shimmering, beefy fall stew?

Your thoughts please…


6 responses to “Beef Stew with a Twist

  1. Yes to the mashed potatoes. Does the pork belly have enough fat to brown the meat too? “Meanwhile, I had a glass of the wine.” Sounds like how I cook stew!

  2. Hi Julie, You can fry up the bacon fat first, and then brown the beef. I like to use a plain vegetable oil when browning the beef as the pan is on pretty high heat and I didn’t want the bacon solids from the fat to burn. There is no right or wrong way though, so do what you like! And, yes, having a glass of wine is a MUST, you should see how I clean the house (glass of wine per room, very highly motivating!)

  3. haha on the wine for cleaning house, doesn’t happen in my house I have little slave children who vac for me and I don’t want them drinking on the job! Hehehe… That beef stew is so very beautiful and I love love love the pot!

    Yes to mashed potatoes becaus ethey are hardly ever wrong in anything!

  4. How can you say no to mashed potatoes? Maybe that’s my problem :).

  5. Yes to the mashed potatoes! Or, I like creamy polenta. Mmmmm. Either way, I just love “stew season.”

  6. This looks so hearty and yummy, never tried Guinness in beef stew, but it sounds intriguing!

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