Sunday, April 15, 2012

Secret Ingredient Beef Stew

I'll get right to it...the secret ingredient is anchovies. But since I can't bring myself to touch an actual anchovy, I used anchovy paste. Ah, much easier and neater. Just squeeze the tube and it instantly dissolves into your stew, adding all the secret flavor without any little eyes staring up at you. I made this recipe because it was food52's Your Best Beef Stew contest winner, and I'm a sucker for contest winners. I figure if all those foodies got together and agreed it was the best, it must be worth making. And in this case, the good folks at food52 were on the money. This stew is rich and scrumptious. So if you're afraid of anchovies (or anchovy paste), my advice is get over it. Close your eyes, squeeze the tube, stir and pretend it never happened. Just add it to the long list of little things you delude yourself about every day. You'll be much happier (like when you tell yourself that zit isn't so big and no one can see it under all that concealer). I hope I didn't just burst your bubble (ew, bad choice of words).

Serves 8-10

5 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2 leeks, washed well and cut thinly
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 carrots, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
4 oz. white mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 anchovies (or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth, or more as needed
1 (14.5 oz.) can whole tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup chopped parsley

1.      Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides. Brown the meat in batches in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven over high heat, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a plate.
2.      Lower the heat and add all the vegetables. Cook for 5-10 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and anchovies and cook to melt the anchovies and distribute.
3.      Add the beef back in, with its juices. Add the wine, vinegar, and tomatoes with juice (breaking them up against the side of the pot as you go) and bring to a boil. Add enough stock to cover (you may need a bit more than 3 cups), the salt, bay leaves and thyme. Bring back to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, for about 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
4.      When cool, skim off much of the fat from the top and remove the bay leaves. Reheat over low heat, letting the stew simmer 30-45 minutes before serving.
5.      Mix in half of the parsley and garnish with the rest.

barely tweaked from food52—winner of Your Best Beef Stew Contest
beef stew meat
browning the meat

I didn't do this the proper way, which is in batches
so you can sear the meat better. I was rushing
a little and threw it all in at once.
chopped leeks
leeks, onion, garlic, carrot, celery & mushrooms
beef added back
adding tomato paste
adding the anchovy paste

Just do it!
adding the wine
adding the broth
tomatoes added
bay leaves, thyme and salt added
after simmering for 3 1/2 hours

I didn't refrigerate this and then skim off the fat
(I didn't have the time). But it wasn't very fatty. Maybe
because the stew meat was pretty lean to begin with.
adding the parsley

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