Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Inheritatnce

Hello there. Long time no blog:) So awhile ago I inherited some friends' back issues of Cooks Illustrated. I knew that they were supposedly awesome but honestly I'd never really looked at them because they didn't have big, beautiful colored pictures which is the most important quality to me in a cook book/magazine. But, the other day I actually found myself with nothing pressing to do so I sat down with a cup of tea and the magazines. What seemed like a few minutes later was actually about an hour that I had been pouring over these magazines. It was like reading a novel. Each recipe has a "story" and explanation about how the recipe had been tested to make sure that they were giving out the best version. I found myself wanting to make the recipe even without seeing the big, beautiful colored picture (until I turned the magazine over and saw that it had pictures on the back:). Anyway all that to say it made me want to cook. So, I chose a recipe that I had all the ingredients for. Say hello to the best beef stew ever. Don't be scared of the anchovy paste. Or the unflavored gelatin. Just push through! It's worth it!

Best Beef Stew
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Feb 2010
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 anchovy fillets or 2t anchovy paste (I use the paste. You can get it in a tube and it lasts for a long time. It's also great to use in caesar salad!)
  • 1 T tomato paste (also sold in a tube!)
  • 1 boneless chuck roast (about 4 lbs) trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 in pieces. You could also use beef stew meat.
  • 2T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1in pieces
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1 1/2 C frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 2 t unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 C water
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat to 300 degrees. Combine garlic and anchovy paste in small bowl; press with back of fork to form paste. Stir in tomato paste and set mixture aside.
  2. Pat meat dry with paper towels. Do not season. Heat 1 T veg oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add only enough beef as not to crowd the pan and brown on all sides. Transfer beef to a plate and repeat until all meat is browned.
  3. Place all meat back into pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onion and carrots to Dutch oven and stir to combine with beef. Cook, scraping botton of pan to loosen any browned bits, until onion is softened, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until no dry flour remains, about 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly add wine, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits. Increase to high heat and allow wine to simmer until thickened and slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to simmer, cover and transfer to oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove pot from oven; remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in potatoes and mushrooms, cover, return to oven, and cook until potatoes are almost tender, about 45 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in pearl onions. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender and onions are cooked through and meat has little resistance when poked with a fork, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over water in small bowl and allow to soften for 5 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to high, stir in softened gelatin mixture; simmer until gelatin is fully dissolved and stew is thickened about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve.
Ok, so maybe you're overwhelmed. It does seem like a lot of steps but it's totally worth it. The meat comes out so tender and flavorful and the broth/sauce is thick and rich. Make it!