My sister has been after me to make my beef stew and since the weather has turned autumnal, I’m happy to comply. I’ve made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and frankly, I like this better and it is much less fuss. There is also a lot of built-in flexibility with my version. I happen to like really big chunks of meat and LOTS of vegetables. Sometimes I actually run out of room in my cocotte and I have to leave out the mushrooms. It still is wonderful. I always use wine in my stew but you could use only beef stock and it would still be delicious. The one thing I am adamant about, however, is that the meat you use should be a well-marbled chuck roast. This is cooked “low and slow” and something that is leaner will end up like shoe leather. I buy my chuck roast whole and trim and cut it myself. It really only takes about 15 minutes to cut up yourself and is well-worth the time. Other than peeling the potatoes, there isn’t that much active time with this dish, so take the time and cut the meat yourself. This way you can have lovely large, meaty, moist chunks of beef and who wouldn’t want that?! I have made this in a slow cooker but prefer the results when I make it in the oven. This dish can – and should – be made ahead. The flavors only improve with age and reheating. Purely for aesthetics, I would, therefore, only add my peas just before serving when I am heating the stew through or I add them straight from the freezer into the hot stew after I have turned off the heat when I know that I will be only reheating this once. You can of course, make this and eat it in the same day. It just is even better when made a day in advance.
Lisa’s Beef Stew
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
4.25 pounds of untrimmed chuck roast (This will yield about 3.75 pounds trimmed)
2 Tablespoons EVOO
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste (don’t be too stingy)
2 cups beef stock
2 cups red wine (Use what you will be drinking – a cabernet or malbec or zinfandel)
28 ounces canned tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
5 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sugar (brown or white)
1 pound baby carrots
1.5 pounds small red or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled but left whole
10 ounces pearl onions (Use frozen – it is NOT worth the effort to peel fresh ones. Trust me, I’ve done it!)
10 ounces frozen peas (If you prefer, you could use green beans, cut into thirds, but I always use peas…)
8 ounces of brown mushrooms like a Cremini or Baby Bellas, halved or quartered (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Trim the roast and cut into large chunks (2 x 2 inches)
- Toss the meat with salt and pepper
- Brown on all sides in a heavy Dutch Oven or Cocotte in the heated EVOO. I did this in two batches. When your last batch has browned, add back all of the meat along with the bay leaves and canned tomatoes.
- Sprinkle the Tapioca, sugar and thyme over the meat and mix through. Add the wine and beef stock. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1.5 hours.
- After 1.5 hours, add in the carrots, onions and potatoes and gently stir through. Re-cover the pot and place it back in the oven for another hour. If you are using the mushrooms, add them now and cook for another 30 minutes. Otherwise just cook the stew for the additional 30 minutes for a total of 3 hours. Turn off the heat and add in the frozen peas, gently mixing through. Allow the stew to cool, covered. I don’t bother refrigerating it if I am using it the next day but feel free. When you are ready to eat the stew, place it in a 300 degree oven for about 30 – 45 minutes until heated through. Adjust your seasonings if necessary.
Note: Because you are using the Minute Tapioca, there is no need to thicken the sauce or to add a roux. I told you this was easy! Serve this with a crusty bread and a green salad.