Like most people, when the weather is wet and/or dreary outside, I like to cook comfort foods...things such as stew, soup, big pot of pasta sauce or a meaty casserole. They warm you up when eating them and warm the kitchen up while they are cooking. Most involve longer cooking times, but once the prep work is done, you let them cook in the oven or on the stove. A pretty low-key way of making dinner!
I also like these type of meals on football Sundays. I LOVE my football! Last Sunday the NFC & AFC championship games were on. This stew was working its magic in the oven while I watched the last game. I love multi-tasking like this!
I found this recipe on the Williams-Sonoma blog. Using bacon in the stew appealed to me. Everything is better with bacon, right? It's a very flavorful stew, we really enjoyed it. I messed up while shopping and bought four pounds of stew meat, instead of the three pounds the recipe called for. Oops! What the heck, I browned them all and we had a very meaty stew! It made a lot. We had it for dinner and then I brought the leftovers to the office to share for lunch. It was even more flavorful the next day.
The original recipe calls for using the cooked bacon as a garnish. I threw the bacon in the pot before baking. I didn't have fresh thyme, was too lazy to cut some rosemary, so used Italian seasoning instead. I like a lot of veggies in my stew, so used extra carrots. It was quite yummy!
Hearty Beef Stew
3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
2 Tbs. canola oil
4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, cut into chunks
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-in. lengths
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
4 cups (32 fl. oz.) beef stock or broth
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 lbs. red-skinned potatoes
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Pour the fat into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. In batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Add another 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock, and then stir in the tomato paste, the 1 Tbs. parsley and the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Cut the unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the pot, stir, re-cover and continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and the reserved bacon. Serves 6.
Recipe source: Williams Sonoma