Monday, January 11, 2010

Chez Panisse Beef Stew

This is just one of many ways to make stew. And when you live in a frozen tundra, almost any variety is a winner. But the key to making exceptional stew is browning the meat properly and using good stock.

beef stew and polenta

Below are the Ingredients and Instructions, mixed, as you will find them in Alice Waters' The Art Of Simple Food.

Ingredients and Instructions (cut quantities in half if you don't want to eat this for a week)
Season generously, a day ahead if possible:
3 lbs beef chuck, cut into half inch cubes
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Heat, in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat:
2 tablespoons oil
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Cook until rendered and lightly brown but not crisp. Remove the bacon and add the meat, browning well on all sides, in as many batches as necessary. Put the browned meat into a heavy pot or braising dish. Pour off most of the fat, lower the heat, and add:
2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cloves (stick them into onion quarters)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sprigs each of thyme, savory, and parsley
1 bay leaf
A few peppercorns
Cook until slightly browned and add to the beef in the pot. Return the pan to the stove and raise the heat. Pour in:
3 Tablespoons brandy (optional)
This may flame up, so be careful. Then add:
1.75 cups red wine
Cook until reduced by two thirds, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the beef and vegetables. Add:
3 diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 small head of garlic, separated into cloves, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1 thin strip orange zest
2 cups beef stock (or chicken broth)

Check the level of the liquid; it should be at least three-quarters of the way up the cubes of beef. Add more if needed. Cover the pot tightly and cook at a bare simmer on the stovetop, or in a 325 degree fahrenheit oven, for 2 to 3 hours. Check the stew occasionally to be sure that it is not boiling and that there is enough liquid. When the meat is tender, turn off the heat, and let the stew settle for a few minutes. Skim off all the fat. Discard the bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorns. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Serve sprinkled with a mixture of:
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine

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