We’ve been having crazy warm days…the photo is from the 6th of January and it was so warm we ate lunch on our veranda!
Ewww…I have no idea what that goop is on the thermometer…tomorrow I’ll give it wash. Promise.
Do not ask me why I decided we needed to eat beef stew last night. I rarely make meat as a main dish, and I usually only think of stew when it feels like January!
Yesterday I happened to be in the neighborhood of the butcher Porrà, (who supplies us with that wonderful garden gold – manure) so I stopped in to wish them all a Happy New Year. In their little country shop a lovely piece of beef stew meat was beckoning me, so I bought it.
The young butcher was so pleased. He told me that economic crisis or not, almost everyone wants steaks and fancy roasts, all the expensive pieces of meat. We both agreed that most less expensive cuts taste fabulous and also feed a crowd for not much money.
Alas, this dish does not fit my weekday meal rule DENS, Delicious, Economic, Nutritious and Speedy to prepare. It’s the speedy part that fails, but most of the time is actually in the oven…
750 grams stew beef
2 large leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 large glass of red wine (I used Montepulciano, a hearty red)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
a few sprigs fresh thyme
Flour for flouring the meat
Cut the beef into small bite size pieces and lightly flour.
Heat up a large flat bottomed pan. Add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom, about 1/8″.
Heat the oil until it sizzles when you sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in it.
Add a handful of lightly floured beef pieces, one at a time. Do not crowd. Really. I know it seems faster to add bunches at a time, but then you end up with sticky steamed bits of meat and burned bits. Better take this slow.
We want browned bits of meat. Do not stir. Do not be tempted to flip the pieces until each one comes away from the bottom of the pan easily..no scraping. Once you get the hang of this you’ll never brown meat another way.
When each batch of meat pieces is browned, transfer them with slotted spoon to a dish you can put in the oven. I have and love a ceramic coated cast iron casserole given to me by my mother years ago. A stainless steel pot works well too.
De-glaze the pan you cooked the meat in by adding some red wine while the pan still has heat under it. I always spoon off the extra oil before de-glazing, but if you don’t mind the extra fat, don’t.
Add the sliced leeks.
Add a half a jar of pure tomato pulp, a glass of red wine, the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Put the lid on, or cover with tin foil and put in a medium oven.
After about a half hour, remove from oven, stir up the contents and add some water if it looks a bit dry. We want it to be dryish..not watery, we’re after stew, not soup. How much, if any extra liquid you need will all depend on how much water is in the ingredients before cooking.
Put back in the oven for about another 45 minutes to an hour, checking periodically and adding bits of water if needed. You know it’s done when the meat becomes super tender, and all the ingredients meld together and are ever so slightly caramelized like this:
I served this with steamed tiny potatoes from the garden and wilted broccoli rape. I’ll freeze the leftovers and in the future serve with wholewheat egg pasta.