Don’t stew on it…just do it.

I’m a tad late on this post (since posting the Beef Stew pic a few days ago)…but here goes – the recipe.  This is really a half-recipe, enough for about three hearty servings.

I gleaned the basics from my many tries and mis-tries with beef stew over the years.  A successful recipe for me seems to always come down to getting back to the basics and then judiciously adding (or subtracting) a few favorite elements.  In this case, I edited a ‘Winter Beef and Vegetable Stew’ out of my Willams-Sonoma Soup & Stew cookbook (downloaded to my iPad, which has fast become my kitchen cookbook as well).  Here’s the abbreviated recipe I concocted for that photo.

Tip: Once again…it’s important to mis en place (everything in its place) before you begin.  Have everything chopped and diced and taken out before you start cooking anything.

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1 1/2 lb trimmed tri-tip or chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

A few tablespoons Canola oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 medium sweet onion, thin half slices

1 large carrot, cut into coins

1/4 lb cremini or white mushrooms, cut in half if large

2 cloves garlic, fine dice

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 1/2 cups beef stock (you can use beef broth)

1/2 cup dry red wine (I used Pinot Noir)

1 bay leaf

2 medium Russet potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

A touch of tabasco or other hot sauce of your choice

2 tablespoons corn starch

fresh parsley for garnish, chopped (dry works almost as well)

Salt and pepper the beef cubes, then brown them in the oil over high heat in a heavy dutch oven (in batches, don’t crowd them).  It’s important to NOT use a non-stick pan as you want those brown bits (fond) that stick to the pan after browning. Remove the beef and set aside in a bowl.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Add the vinegar to de-glaze the bottom of the pan, scraping all the brown bits with a wooden spoon.  Let the vinegar reduce until almost gone.  Reduce heat to medium, add a little more oil, add the onions, mushrooms, and saute until just beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the garlic and carrots and stir for another minute or so.  Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups of the beef stock (reserve 1/2 cup for later), tomato paste, the reserved beef and any juices in the bowl, and the red wine.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours or until the beef is tender.  Add a little water if needed to keep all the ingredients covered the whole cooking time.

Add the cubed potatoes and stir into the beef and vegetables.  Place the rosemary sprigs in the pot. Cover and simmer on low for about an hour until the potatoes are tender.

Stir the cornstarch into the remaining 1/2 cup beef stock.  Turn up the heat and add this to the pot.  Bring to a low boil and cook until thickened to your liking (cover removed).

The most important step:  season to your liking (did someone say hot sauce?).  Garnish with fresh (or dry) parsley.

I usually add enough fresh ground pepper and salt through the cooking steps that I don’t need to add additional seasoning at the end.  Remember, you can always add more salt and pepper later, it’s not so easy to compensate for too much.

Add more vegetables if you like (root type).  Adjust the liquid if you do.  However, this is a hearty BEEF stew…emphasis on BEEF.