Monday, November 7, 2011

Mama Ozzy's Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Red Wine.

There is something about an autumn Sunday afternoon and beef stew.  The two were just made for each other.

Doug and I are working on a fairly involved restoration project in the "World Famous Tiki Lounge" (our garage-cum-cocktail lounge in the backyard).  We discovered some fairly extensive dry rot over the garage door and so we have decided to install some new french doors in place of the old garage door.  It's perfect weather for construction work, cool and sunny.  And while we work, this beef stew is happily simmering away inside, just waiting for us to come in for dinner.
Doug looks a little too happy to be using a buzz saw...

The new french doors!

I started this stew early this morning, and am going to let it just... well, stew all day.  The trick to an excellent beef stew is to get a really good sear on the beef.  And the best way to do that is to cook the beef a few pieces at a time over medium high heat.  Just like Julia Child says, you must not overcrowd the beef!  Caramelizing the beef like this develops a rich brown patina in the pot that gives a really intense beef flavor.

This recipe makes a gracious plenty, which is never a problem around here.  This stew reheats perfectly in the microwave and makes an excellent brown bag lunch!

Mama Ozzy's Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Red Wine
(serves 10)

4 lbs beef, cut into bite-sized cubes
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter

2 medium onions, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup flour
2 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
4 unpeeled medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans and corn)

In a large heavy stock pot, heat oil and butter over medium high heat until butter is melted.  Add  beef cubes 1 lb at a time, do not over crowd, and cook turning frequently until beef is very well seared on all sides.  Transfer browned beef to a large bowl and repeat until all the beef is browned.

Add onions and celery to beef drippings and cook 10 minute over medium high heat until onion wilts.  Add Mushrooms and cook, tossing frequently until mushrooms are very soft.  Add thyme, black pepper, tomato paste and stir well.  Add flour and stir until mixed.  Add wine and stir until a very thick sauce is made.  Add Beef stock and stir.  Add rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, salt, sugar and worcestershire sauce.   Add beef cubes back to pot and bring just to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot with a lid and simmer 4 hours.

Add potatoes and continue to cook 1- 2 hours, stirring occasionally until beef and potatoes are very tender.  Remove rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.

Add frozen vegetables, stir and cook 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

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