We have been having cold weather, with frosts, just the kind of night for a hearty beef stew.  When I first began making this stew, I asked DH, when was the last time we had Beef Stew?  He got quiet, and started counting the years...over 10 years.  Lord have mercy! I love making stews with red wine, good beef stock, and caramelized onions and mushrooms. And using fresh, local organic ingredients... Yummmm. I took extra pictures, to do a step by step process, for my dear daughter who does cook a few things, and thought she might like this to add to her repertoire.
1 1/2 lbs. stewing beef - farm raised, anti-biotic free
Olive oil, and butter
1 large onion, sliced
4 minced garlic cloves
5 organic crimini mushrooms, sliced and then halved
1 glass of red wine
1 litre Beef stock
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
about 2/3 cup rutabaga, diced
3/4 cup frozen baby peas-defrosted
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 tsp. minced fresh Rosemary
handful of fresh minced Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
Heat up a dutch oven on medium heat.  Place the stewing beef onto a paper towel and pat dry.  Once the pan is heated, add in a good drizzle of Olive oil and a Tblsp. of butter.  Season the beef with salt and pepper, and place in the dutch oven to brown.  I always do this in batches, so the meat does not overcrowd in the pan, and can brown nicely.
Once all the beef is browned, takes about 15 minutes or so,transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan, you may need another knob of butter, and saute, until the mushrooms are golden, then remove from the pan, and add in the onions to begin caramelizing. After 4-5 minutes, sauteing, I cover with a lid, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes or so until they are nicely caramelized.
Here is a lot of yumminess with all of those brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add in the minced garlic stirring until fragrant.  Then add in the glass of red wine, scraping up those brown bits.
Let this simmer adding in the herbs for about 2 minutes, then return the beef and mushrooms to the pan, and pour in the beef stock, again stirring to combine.

Season with salt and pepper, lid on, turned down to a low simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. See this nice, rich stock? The gravy will be divine. I promise!
Then add in the chopped Rutabaga.  I always find that Rutabaga takes longer to cook than carrots and parsnips.  After about 10 minutes, add in the carrots and parsnips, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
At this point, add in the defrosted baby peas, and make a cornstarch slurry with a few tablespoons of corn starch, and a splash of beef stock - it is best if on the thick side.  Keep the stew on a simmer, and drizzle in the cornstarch slurry, stirring to thicken to a nice consistency.  Adjust for salt and pepper, and serve over steamed or mashed potatoes.  Heaven.

Ina Gawne
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November 5, 2010