Cabernet Beef Stew!
So delicious. So hearty. So EASY!
This is the perfect recipe to make when you have guests coming for dinner and you would prefer to have fun with those guests rather than slaving away at the stove.
With the exception of some initial browning of the meat, this lovely stew cooks almost entirely on its own in the oven. That means that you get to play flute duets with your friend while it cooks and makes your house smell beefy and lovely.
Here’s what you need:
Beef, red wine, flute…..what the heck? Let’s try that again…
Beef*, Red Wine – Cabernet preferred, pearl onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, parsley, butter, tomato paste, flour, bay leaves, oregano, basil, rosemary, salt & pepper (not pictured). Wild rice blend mix (optional).
*For the beef I’m using a small shoulder roast. I’m not a huge fan of the meat already cut up in the store and packaged as “stew meat”. For some recipes it’s just fine, but for this — where the meat and the wine are the stars of the show, I prefer to have meat that still has enough marbling (fat) to taste great, but has a little more body than the scraps often packaged as stew meat.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the meat into strips about 1 inch wide and then into 1 inch cubes.
I have about 2 1/4 pounds of meat which will serve about 5 or 6 people.
Chop up some carrots into 1 inch lengths. No need to even peel the carrots. Just give them a good wash and chop them up. If you have some really thick ends, you might want to cut them in half so they cook evenly.
Wash (if you are that kind of a person) 1 pound of white mushrooms and cut them into halves or quarters depending on size.
Smash, peel and chop up several (4-6) cloves of garlic. Don’t be afraid to use quite a bit of garlic. Remember this is going to cook down to a lovely stew so the garlic will have plenty of time to mellow out.
Chop up some fresh parsley. Put some in the stew and save just a bit for a garnish at the end.
Speaking of beefy….have a hunky flute player serenade you while you do all this chopping.
What? No flute player in YOUR kitchen? Dang.
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter (we will use 1/2 stick or 4 Tablespoons total) in a large, heavy pot. If you have a pot with a lid that will go directly into the oven use it. If not, brown your meat in a big skillet and then transfer it to any large oven proof dish that has a lid.
Working in small batches so you don’t crowd the pan, brown the cubes of meat in the butter over medium high heat. (Whoa, blurry and steamy, sorry.)
Once the meat has browned on a couple of sides to a nice dark color, remove it from the pan and brown another batch. No need to cook the meat completely through or even brown it on all sides. It will cook for 2 hours in the oven later. What we’re trying to do here is caramelize the outside of the meat to lock in the juiciness and also enhance the overall flavor and appearance of the dish.
Once all of the meat has been browned and removed, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter to the pan and dump in the carrots, mushrooms and about 1/2 a bag of frozen small pearl onions.
Frozen Pearl Onions are great. I simply do not have the patience to stand and peel a bunch of teeny tiny onions. (Helpful hint: If you are ever FORCED to peel tiny onions, give them a dip for about 1 minute in boiling water to loosen the peels. You can thank me later.)
Give all these veggies a stir in the pot and let them saute in the butter for about 5- 1o minutes. Once again, we’re not trying to cook them, just get them going and flavor them with the beef and buttery goodness already in the pot.
Once the veggies have cooked a bit, add 2 Tablespoons of flour to the pot and stir it into the vegetables to make a thickener (roux) for the stew.
Add the chopped garlic and 1 small can of tomato paste. Stir to combine with all of the veg.
Add the meat and any juices that may have accumulated back into the pot. Pour in a bottle of red wine – preferably Cabernet Sauvignon to cover the beef. Yes, pour in the whole bottle of wine.
Remember to use wine that you are willing to drink and not the so-called cooking wine. You don’t have to go crazy and buy a $50 bottle of wine – mine cost under $10. Most Cabernets have a nice full flavor and are on the dry side. Stay away from any kind of sweet wine for this dish. Merlot would be fine. Siraz is good too.
Add some seasonings – a couple of bay leaves, and about 1 Tablespoon EACH of dried rosemary, oregano and basil. Don’t forget the salt and pepper.
Put a lid on the pot (or cover tightly with a double layer of foil) and put it in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours.
Go about your business as your house begins to fill with the most amazing beefy, winey goodness you’ve ever encountered. It’s a good idea to give it a stir about halfway through the cooking time just to be sure nothing is sticking.
Hello, Cabernet Beef Stew! Where have you been all my life?
Serve with a nice wild rice mix (easy to follow instructions on the box) or with some mashed potatoes. Add a green veg and you’re good to go.
So delicious and easy.
Tim Macri, flute player sold separately.
Here’s the recipe!