It’s hard to beat a bowl of beef stew on a cool, windy spring day, especially when it’s homemade.
I remember as a kid the wonderful stew we used to have for school hot lunch and also the kind my mom used to make for us at home.
After I moved away from home after college, about the closest my palate ever came to that old favorite was the occasional can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew, which in retrospect, was pretty darned good.
These days, whenever we have stew, it’s homemade. Therese usually makes the stew in our house, but yesterday, I decided to give it a shot.
With about 1½ to 2 pounds of a buffalo roast remaining in the refrigerator after using the rest of it a couple of days earlier for some Swiss steak, I made a batch of stew with a recipe that was an improvisation of one found on the Internet.
The result was an entree that brought back a lot of old memories — and perfect for a noon lunch on a day that begged for something warm and comforting.
2 pounds chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¾ teaspoon dried rosemary
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 to 3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
Chopped fresh parsley for garnishing
Sprinkle the beef chunks with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the beef to coat all sides.
Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy stock pot until hot (when you sprinkle in a few drops of water they should jump and sizzle). Add the coated beef chunks, spacing them out about ½ inch from each other and, working in batches so as not to overcrowd, generously brown the beef on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the onions with another tablespoon of butter to the Dutch oven (do not remove the browned/blackened bits in the bottom of the pan) and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes (add a little more oil or butter if necessary). Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the wine, bring it to a rapid boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and boil for 2 minutes or until the wine is mostly evaporated. Return the beef to the Dutch oven.
Add the broth, tomato paste and seasonings. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 90 minutes.
Add the vegetables, cover and cook for another hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot sprinkled with a little chopped fresh parsley.