Braised Beef Stew

Let me start off by saying, although this picture may not capture this stew's greatness,  it is hands down the best stew I've ever eaten {no offense mom}.   This beef stew is cooked in a similar manner as to beef bourguignon; both braise the meat and are cooked in a red wine sauce.  I added potatoes, carrots, and sugar snap peas to my stew where as a beef bourguignon traditionally adds pearl onions and mushrooms.  

Growing up, when watching my mom make beef stew, I noticed that all the ingredients were placed into the pot at the same time, and slowly cooked over the stovetop.  This beef stew is crafted differently, in a multi-step process cooked over the stovetop and in the oven.  First, the meat is braised then set aside.  Second, the sauce is made by creating a stock from the vegetables and wine reduction.  Then meat is added to the stock, and placed into the oven for 2+ hours.  Thirdly, the sauce is strained discarding the cooked vegetables.  The cooked beef, stained wine sauce, and uncooked vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and peas) are returned to the pot allowed to slowly simmer in the oven until tender.  

This develops deep, rich flavors, super tender beef, and colorful vegetables that still hold their texture.  Absolutely perfect!  My serving tip: have a loaf of crusty bread ready; you'll want to use a slice to soak up every drop of beef-wine sauce.  Here's to good food that will make your heart glad!

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe.  Serves 6-8.  Recipe derived from Epicurious, 2008.  

Ingredients for Braised Beef Stew

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck (not lean), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots, quartered
  • 3 celery ribs, quartered
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, quartered
  • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 (375-ml) bottle dry red wine (about 2.5 cups).  I used a 2008 BadescoToscano variety by Bonacchi. 
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, dried rosemary
  • 1.5 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 pounds white boiling potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
  • coarse salt and pepper

Directions for Braised Beef Stew

  1. BRAISE BEEF:   Pat dry the beef and season with salt and pepper (1 tsp each).  In a large dutch oven (6-8 quart), over medium-high heat add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil.  When the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat.  Do not overcrowd the pan while cooking; cook in 2 batches.  Turn the meat to brown all sides.  Transfer meat to a platter to rest. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. 
  2. MAKE VEGETABLE-WINE STOCK:  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to dutch oven.  Saute the onion and garlic until tender.  Add celery and half of the carrots.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook about 8 minutes until browned.  Clear a spot in the pot, add tomato paste.  Stir to cook for about 2 minutes.  Add vinegar, stirring for 2 minutes.  Add in wine, bay leaves, and sprigs of thyme.  Increase heat to medium and boil until wine has reduced by 2/3 (about 10-12 minutes).  Add beef broth, water, braised beef with juices from platter to the pot.  Cover the pot and place into the oven.  Cook about 2 to 2.5 hours until meat fork tender.
  3. Remove the dutch oven pot from the oven.  Set a large colander in a large bowl.  Carefully pour the stew into the colander.  Return the pieces of meat back to the pot, discard the cooked vegetables.  Let cooking liquid stand for 10 minutes, skim excess oils, return to pot with meat.  
  4. COOK POTATOES, CARROTS, AND PEAS: Add potatoes, peas, and remaining uncooked carrots to the pot with the braised beef and wine stock.  Ensure that the vegetables are submerged in the liquid.  Add dried thyme, rosemary, and a pinch of salt.  Cover the pot and return to the oven.  Cook about 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  

Cool leftovers, then chill in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Reheat on stovetop over medium heat.  Flavors and sauce improves the second day.