Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beef Stew

While couch potato-ing just the day before Thanksgiving, I watched Giada Di Laurentis make the most amazing looking beef stew. The bonus? It called for the fresh herbs I just happened to need for the turkey that Ina Garten inspired me to make.
A quick trip to Trader Joe's gave me a big ol' bag of ready to go, cubed stew meat; ready to go, cubed butternut squash, and I was in business.
I read other users' comments too late, but now I know for next time. And the time after that. And the time after that as well. Because this stew was AWESOME and easy and I am totally making it again. It serves 4-5 (five only if you're having a big salad or some starters first, and your company is really polite and refrains from going back for more).
Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 pounds stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (or if you're lucky it's ready to go for you; several other users swear by using boneless ribs)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Marsala wine; red wine; or sherry - I used Dry Sack and it was awesome, and another user said she used plain old red wine and it was still amazing
1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 to 4 cups beef broth - I used the little packs that TJ's sells and they're delish. Best part? No more wasting half a carton; each little pack makes one cup!
2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley - I skipped this, but to each their own
Crusty bread - sourdough, obviously, for serving
optional ingredients:
roux - have it on hand since you will probably need it; I made mine with flour, but cornstarch is probably quicker
tomato paste can also be used to intesify the tomato flavor and to thicken

In a large soup pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes. Toss the beef cubes in salt and pepper and flour (I shake and bake those punks in a plastic bag). Turn up the heat to med-high and add the beef to the pot. Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala wine (or whatever you're using). Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add enough beef broth to just cover the beef, I used 3 cups. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. 30-40 minutes in, add the squash. Giada says to add it in the beginning, but it will probably turn to mush if you do. If you wait until later, the cubes will maintain their cubeyness. Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley if you're into that sort of thing. Serve with copious amounts of sourdough.

My stew was certainly ready within the hour, but depending on your cut of meat, it may take longer so keep an eye on things and poke around when you think it's done. I'm probably going to add mushrooms next time. Booyah!

This is easy to prepare, fast (for a stew), hearty and will make your house smell amazing. Quinn arrived well into the cooking process and said he could smell it as he came up the stairs and had his fingers crossed that it was coming from my apartment. Silly boy, there are always delicious smells coming from my apartment.

Unless it's cauliflower night. : /


Tried it again with some delicious wine Andrea brought over. I also didn't have the fresh herbs I needed so I used an Italian herb blend. I tossed the beef with whole wheat flour rather than AP flour. I waited until the last 20 minutes to add the squash and that worked out much better. I did not need any roux to thicken this batch. It was amazing, yet again.


Quinn said...

Yeah, that was the best stew. mmmmmmmm

Cynical Siren said...

I'm a follower! I request a non-beef post!

Rogue Designs said...

Ha - I'll try. . . but you know what they say, "Beef. It's what's for dinner."