In my opinion, every good cook should have a great recipe for beef stew (or any other type of stew). I find this to be the ideal dish because it only gets better and better after a couple of days sitting in the fridge, so you can make a big pan of it, and then eat the leftovers for several days. In Peru we always accompany this kind of stew with white garlicky rice, but you may use pasta, or skip the potatoes in the pot and serve them mashed instead. Creamy mashed canary beans or silky polenta are two other excellent options.
Since this stew needs a long cooking time, it’s not necessary to look for the most expensive cuts of meat. Instead, buy the cheapest you can find, and you will be amazed at the transformation that this humble piece of beef will go through after a couple hours of slow cooking. Each bite will be fork tender, and full of flavor thanks to the wine and the bay leaf.
Carrots, potatoes and green peas are the classic vegetables use in the basic stew, but if you want to upgrade it, add mushrooms as well as some zucchini and pearl onions, like many wise French cooks do.
Be careful about the wine you choose for this -or any other- recipe. Your dish will only be its very best version if the quality of the rest of your ingredients is great. Many people tend to think that when cooking with wine, the quality doesn’t really matter, but nothing is further from the truth. You should use a good wine that will enhance your dish and make it more robust. Now you know.
- 2 lb. stew meat
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 2 tablespoons tomato paste)
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon dried mushroom, soaked in 1 cup boiling water
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut in rounds
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cut in fourths
- 1 cup green peas
- ⅓ cup parsley
- Cut the beef in 2 inch pieces. Combine the flour with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge the beef in the flour.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the beef pieces, a few at a time so they turn golden brown but do not steam. Transfer to a plate and repeat with all the beef.
- In the same oil, cook the onion and garlic, stirring continuously until golden brown.
- Add the tomato or tomato paste, and put the beef back in the saucepan.
- Pour the wine, and beef stock. Add the bay leaf and dried mushrooms along with the soaking water (be careful not to pour the sand at the bottom of the cup).
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat, put the lid on, and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
- Add the vegetables and cook until tender. Taste for seasoning.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley and serve with white fluffy rice.