My Beef Stew

This is a mostly invented recipe, so I apologize for it being a little rough. Frankly, it's really not that different from how I make pot roast except you cut up the beef into lots of little pieces.

Ingredients

About 6 lbs beef chuck roast
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 tbls butter
1 – 2 tbls cooking oil
1 quart beef stock
1 bottle red wine (cab, merlot – something drinkable but not too expensive)
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 – 3 bay leaves
1 tbls peppercorns
2 – 3 cups water
1-1/2 to 2 lbs carrots
1-1/2 to 2 lbs boiling potatoes (red, white, golds)
2 containers whole mushrooms
2 – 4 tbls butter for sautéing mushrooms
1 1/2 cup (three sticks) butter
1 1/2 cup flour
¼ to ½ cup heavy cream (optional)

Over medium heat, melt the 4 tbls butter in large frypan and add onions. Sautee onions until browned and partially blackened, 20 minutes or more – a key to good flavor in stew is really well-browned and even blackened onions.

While the onions are cooking, cut the chuck roast into 1 – 2” cubes, trimming the fat and sinew in the process. Dry the beef cubes with towels. Add enough oil to a large stew pot ( minimum 8 qts) to coat the bottom and heat until oil barely begins to smoke. Add beef in batches, brown well on most sides and remove. FYI, because of the amount of beef, I usually will also use a second frypan for browning (maybe three frypans). Deglaze the frypan with a little wine (if you’re using more than one, deglaze all and empty into the stew pot). Empty the onions into the stew pot and deglaze the ONION frypan with some wine. Dump the beef into the stew pot. Add the beef broth and remaining red wine. Add thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least two hours.

Trim mushrooms , halve or quarter larger ones, and sautee in small amount of butter until tender.

Peel carrots and cut into chunks of your preferred size (I like larger one-inch chunks) and add to stew. Turn the heat back up to return to simmer. Peel potatoes, cut into chunks, and add to stew. Generally speaking, I eyeball the amounts of carrots and potatoes to whatever looks right. Cover and maintain stew at a simmer until vegetables are barely cooked, maybe another 15 -25 minutes depending on the size you cut them into.

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for a couple of minutes (this is a thickening roux). Stir about two-thirds of it into stew and cook for three or four minutes to thicken. If stew still seems too thin, add the extra a little at a time, allowing stew to cook a minute between additions, until desired thickness is reached. In general use equal amounts of butter and flour to make a roux for thickening as needed.

Stir in heavy cream if using, enough to just slightly lighten the color of the stew. Add sautéed mushrooms. Remove bay leaves and thyme stalks. Season with salt to taste and serve.

Comments

Throw in other vegetables as desired. I sometimes like peeled parsnips, which cook in about the same time as carrots, I’ve used sweet potatoes, and I will also add frozen peas near the end.

I also love the little boiling onions but they’re kind of a pain to prepare. If using, they should be peeled and steamed until soft, and added to stew just before serving.

In general, all the vegetables can be cooked external of the stew and added just before serving. The carrots should be steamed and the potatoes steamed or cooked in water as desired. Even though this is a bit of a pain, I quite often do it this way – the vegetables taste much cleaner and fresher when cooked on their own. I believe this mimics a French technique.

The peppercorns will soften in the stew and sort of pop when you chew them. It's a little weird and you may want to leave them out or tie them up in cheesecloth.