With the time change, I stirred earlier than normal on Sunday morning and set out to start this stew. I gathered the ingredients in our quiet house with a stream of early morning light coming through the kitchen window.
I browned the beef and opened a bottle of Sonoma Sangiovese from our recent trip. I took a small sip to make sure it was ok and happily poured the deep red wine over the aromatics. The smell made me incredibly excited for lunch. I covered the pot and placed it in the oven.
A few hours later, the dishes were washed and the table was set. I poured us each a glass of the same Sangiovese I used in the stew. I filled two shallow bowls with tender beef cubes, root vegetables and a silky brown sauce. A generous spoonful of fresh gremolata added color and more fragrance. We dug in and although expectations were high, they were most definitely met.
The sauce is complex and flavorful, but the gremolata is the kicker; it adds a fresh punch to the long-cooked stew.
This recipe is destined for my binder of best recipes.
Recipe: Beef Stew with Gremolata
Slightly adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
2 T. neutral oil
1/3 C. flour
salt and pepper
1 lb. stewing beef
1 large onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 carrots, sliced in 1″ pieces
1/2 bottle (about 2 C.) of good red wine
3 C. water
2 bay leaves
2 T. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
2 large potatoes, medium dice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Put flour on a large dinner plate and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Coat each beef cube in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid (like a dutch oven) over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, brown the beef in two batches, making sure they are brown on all sides. Do not crowd your pot or you won’t get proper browning. When beef is browned on all sides, set aside.
3. Add onion to the pot and sauté until soft using a wooden spoon. Try to get any of the brown flavor bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add in the garlic cloves and carrots and give it a stir. Pour in the wine and really use your wooden spoon to release all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add in water, bay leaves, rosemary, and browned beef cubes and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and put in the preheated oven.
4. Let cook in the oven for 2 hours, give it a quick stir and then reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and cook for an additional 2 hours. Keep the pot covered. When stew is finished cooking, taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Mine needed a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
5. Ladle into bowls and top with a fragrant spoonful of gremolata (recipe below). Serves 4.
Optional Slow-Cooker Directions
1. Put flour on a large dinner plate and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Coat each beef cube in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, brown the beef in two batches, making sure they are brown on all sides. Do not crowd your pot or you won’t get proper browning. When the beef is browned on all sides, set inside your slow-cooker insert.
2. Carefully add the red wine to skillet to deglaze. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the flavorful bits. Add the wine (with flavorful bits) to the slow=cooker insert. Add in the rest of the stew ingredients (the vegetables can be raw) to the slow-cooker. Stir gently to make sure everything is incorporated.
3. At this point, you can cover the insert with its lid and refrigerate overnight or you can turn on the slow cooker right away. Cook on low for 10 hours.
1 1/2 large handfuls flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 large stems of rosemary removed from the stem, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small lemons, zested
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
1. Combine all ingredients gently with a fork. Spoon generously over beef stew.
*You can refrigerate the gremolata if you are making it ahead of time, but bring it back up to room temperature before serving.