When it is getting dark & cold, I have a habit of doing beef stews and things that needs to cook for a long time. There are so many versions of a beef stew. Of course there is the traditional French way of making it but why do we always judge food after the French way of cooking??? I grew up on it and I am sure people all over the world have their own versions. It doesn’t even have to be beef, could be lamb, pork or something else.
So, here is mine. I do slight variations of it but the basic theme is the same. And I don’t use any strict recipes. It is all about feelings and what you have at home.
My Classic Beef stew.
1 1/2 – 2 lb’s of Beef. Cut up into 1″ cubes. (This is perfect for a cheaper cut of meat.)
I onion. Sliced.
1 carrot, cut in “coin size” pieces or 1/2 c. of baby carrots.
1/2 bottle of good red wine.
1 Bouquet garni (rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, parsley. Note- you can add other herbs such as basil, anything goes. All herbs should be tied up in a piece of cheese cloth.) If you rather use any herb or spice of your choice that is also fine. I like to see the boiled down spices in my food so it is not needed to have the herbs tied up and taken out from the stew at the end.
1/2 hot pepper (optional).
Salt & pepper to taste.
I like to cook my beef stew in a dutch oven ( large cast iron pot).
Take the meat and brown it on a semi high heat in a frying pan. Don’t put all in at one time since that would force the juices to come out from the meat and start boiling instead of browning. So, fry a little at a time. When the last part is done pour over the carrots and onions and add in all the fried meat. Let the vegetables fry down for a few minutes. Add the herbs and the pepper. Add the red wine and beef stock. Make sure it just about covers the meat and vegetables.
Let all come to a boil and then take it down do a very low simmer (slow cooking). Let it boil for 2-3 hours. Perhaps even longer, depending on what cut of meat you have used and how big you cut the meat. I would say, that I usually plan on cooking it for about 3-4 hours.
Check ever so often to make sure you don’t cook it so long, that the meat falls apart.
If the liquid is too thin you can thicken it with either some arrow-root, potato flour whisked together with cold water or use any other thickener. Another way is to boil a finely sliced potato together with the stew. The starch in the potato will thicken the stew.
Serve the beef stew with some home-made mashed potatoes and some salad or lettuce.