Nothing is better on a cold and grey winter day than a steaming bowl of hearty stew served with fresh-baked crusty bread. The tender chunks of beef, potato and carrot, combined with the thick rich onion-laced gravy create a delicious meal that will warm the soul, if not the temperature outside. This sumptuous and easy to make stew gets its depth of flavor from sweet-savory caramelized onions, red wine, and long, slow simmering. When it comes to stews the most important ingredient is time.
I like to use a heavy enameled dutch oven to cook the stew as it provides more even heating (which prevents sticking and burning) and it does a much better job of caramelizing the ingredients than a non-stick pan. Do not use a crock-pot to cook this recipe; while crockpots may be convenient, these do not heat up enough to produce the depth of flavor that makes a great tasting dish.
- 1 1/2 lbs of stew beef cut into 1/2″ cubes.
- 3 medium potatoes roughly chopped into 1 inch cubes.
- 1 medium onion cut in eights lengthwise.
- 1 large onion roughly diced.
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced.
- 1/4 cup of tomato ketchup.
- 3 large carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces.
- 1 celery stalk, finely sliced.
- 1 pinch of dried oregano.
- 1 pinch of dried thyme.
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley.
- 1 bay leaf.
- Beef broth.
- 1/4 cup of your favorite inexpensive red wine.
- Olive oil (or bacon drippings).
- Heat an enameled dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot.
- Add ~ 1 tsp of oil or drippings and the roughly diced onion, reduce heat to medium and slowly cook the onions until they begin to caramelize to a light golden color. Add the finely minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until garlic no longer smells raw.
- Add wine to the pan to de-glaze. Scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for another minute or so until the alcohol is cooked off then remove the caramelized onions from pan. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
- Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, turn heat to medium-high and brown the meat in several batches. Don’t stir meat too often, you want the meat to brown nicely and leave its fond on the bottom of the pan.
- Once all of the meat has been browned, add the carrots, cooked and raw onion, and bay leaf . Cook until the onion just starts to turn translucent.
- Add enough beef broth to just about cover meat, stir in herbs, spices, and ketchup then season well with kosher salt. Bring to a slow simmer, layer the potatoes on top and reduce heat to low.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours or until meat is tender and the potatoes have started to cook down. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to cool and place in refrigerator overnight; this allows the flavors to mingle and intensify.
- Before serving, heat stew over medium-low heat until hot. If you like, a cupful of frozen peas or mixed vegetables makes a tasty addition.
- Serve with fresh crusty bread and a glass of your favorite red wine.