If I wasn’t on (permanent) laundry duty, I can’t say I would have left the house at all today. But since I found myself out in the freezing rain I figured a trip to the Associated across the street was my best option for stocking the empty fridge. In the produce section the pickings were slimmer than ever, so I decided to make one of my winter favorites to warm me up from the inside out.
3 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
1 handful baby carrots
3 strips bacon, chopped
4 boiling potatoes peeled and diced
2 cups mushrooms
1 cup blanched or frozen pearl onions
1 bottle dry red or white wine (or 2 cans stock)
¼ cup tomato paste
To taste Fresh parsley, oregano, thyme
2 T butter
1 T Dijon mustard
Olive oil, kosher salt, pepper
* For a leaner stew, I use cubed beef round; the meat doesn’t fall apart quite the same way, but you won’t have to skim an inch of fat off the top later
2. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, fry bacon on medium-high heat in a splash of olive oil. When the bacon bits are crisp, remove them from the pot.
3. Brown your meat in batches, leaving room around each piece in the pot. If the meat is overcrowded, it won’t brown and that is where all the yum comes from. This part takes the longest, but it's worth it.
4. Once the meat is browned, deglaze the pan with a splash of wine or stock, turn the flame to low and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid over the reserved meat, and return the pan to the flame.
5. On low heat, add some butter and sweat the onions, carrots and celery for 10-15 minutes until they are soft. Add garlic and tomato paste, sauté on medium heat for another 5-10 minutes until the mixture has caramelized and your mouth is watering. Turn the heat up to high and add the meat and juices back to the pan.
6. Now comes the fun part! Stand back as you pour the wine over, being sure to cover the meat with liquid (use stock or water if you need it). Bring to a simmer and add the herbs-you can keep them loose or tie them with kitchen string if you want to remove them later. Cover with a tight lid and place in the bottom rack of the oven. Cook for 2 hours, checking after an hour to make sure the stew is simmering.