The calendar says spring, but the nighttime temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest are still chilly. A satisfying Beef Stew will help to warm you up — this recipe is rich enough for a dinner party but still classic comfort food perfect for family dinner. This can easily be prepared in advance (see the recipe for suggestions). Serve the stew by itself, over steamed rice or a bed of egg noodles. A tossed green salad, warm French Bread and you’ll have a memorable dinner. J’Nee Delancey has made three wine selections and each pairs beautifully with the finished stew: Scott Paul 2011 Oregon Pinot Noir; Two Mountain 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve and Les Freres Gambier 2013 Bourgueil.
2 Cups sliced Onions
3 Medium Carrots cut into chunky halves
2 Stalks of Celery cut into generous dice
3 Cups Zinfandel (select an “Old Vine” Zinfandel)
3 Cups Beef Stock
3 Large Garlic Cloves, crushed with the flat of your knife
1 28 ounce can Cento Brand Chef’s Cut Tomatoes
2 Medium potatoes cut into chunks
3 Bay leaves
1 Teaspoon dried Thyme
3 Tablespoons of Flour
2 Tablespoons of Butter (at room temperature)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 generous Tablespoon Better than Bouillon brand beef base
Grated zest from one Medium Orange
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1. In a large pot set over medium heat, place the beef in a single layer and brown, turning often until lightly browned on all sides. Resist the temptation to crowd the beef! Remove beef to a platter once browned.
2. Once all the beef has browned, if the oil has burned replace it with fresh oil and warm over medium heat.
3. Add sliced Onions, Celery and Carrots to the pot, stirring occasionally cook 3 – 5 minutes until the vegetables have lightly caramelized.
4. Pour one cup of Zinfandel over the vegetables and stir, using a cooking spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
5. Add Potatoes, Smashed Garlic, 2 cups of Zinfandel and 3 Cups of Beef Stock, Cento Tomatoes, Bay Leaves, dried Thyme and stir to combine.
6. Bring the pot to a simmer, and stir in the browned meat. Place a lid on the pot and put into the heated 350 degree oven. Let the stew cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until meat is fork-tender and the potatoes are done
.7. Once the meat and potatoes have cooked, remove the pot from the oven
8. Remove the meat from the sauce and reserve, keeping warm. Remove and discard the Bay leaves.
9. Take ½ the sauce, both the liquid and vegetables, and process in a food processor or blender in batches until smooth.
10. Return the stew base back to the pan, keeping over low heat,
11. Make a Buerre Manié: combine the flour and butter in a small bowl and use your finger tips to combine them so that no dry flour remains. Stir the Buerre Manié into the stew base until well incorporated. The sauce will thicken and turn glossy.
12. Add the reserved cooked meat back into the sauce and heat gently.
13. Season with Better Than Bouillon beef base, and Salt and Pepper to taste.
14. Before serving, finish by adding the grated orange zest.
Prepare it in steps: When you have time, Chop the Onions, Celery and Carrots and store them in a food storage container until you’re ready to use them. At your next opportunity, follow steps 1 – 4 and refrigerate. Pick up the recipe at step 5 and finish it – the completed stew can be refrigerated and gently reheated for serving.