OH AUTUMN, I just love you. Every year, by the end of the summer I am always so excited for all the root vegetables and stews and crockpot type meals again. We try to take a cue from “French Women Don’t Get Fat” and eat local and what is in season, so in the summer that means all the salads and lighter meals. Come the fall we dive into the heartier meals that feel like home. Eating what is in season also makes me really excited for the colder weather, even though I don’t love winter, because there are so many amazing foods that come with the colder weather. Truth be told I normally hate stew, but that was before I learned how to make it like a pro! This stew is my adapted recipe from Michael Smith’s Beef Stew. There are a few tricks to make your stew next level.
The first is to cut all the meat and veg to roughly the same size. I find that 1/2 inch cubes are my perfect size, but do whatever size works best for you.
The second tip, which is A MUST, is to sear your beef on all sides before you begin. THIS is the trick to delicious and moist beef that falls apart and melts in your mouth.
The third is to cook the vegetables in two parts. Half goes in right at the beginning to dissolve into and flavour the stew, the other half goes in thirty minutes from the end to give a great colour, shape and texture to your stew.
1lb stewing beef
Salt and pepper
Splash of vegetable oil
A couple of onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
A couple of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
A couple stalks of celery, roughly chopped
A couple potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
One sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup hearty red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves or a sprig of fresh rosemary
- Pat the beef dry and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Place in a bowl and add a 1 tbsp flour, add salt and freshly ground pepper and toss together until the beef is evenly coated.
- Add oil to pot, enough to create a thin film across the bottom, then add your beef to just cover the bottom without stacking on top of each other - even if this means doing it in batches.
- Sear meat on all sides, taking the time to allow the beef to brown on all sides. It takes time but the caramelized flavours are the secret to fantastic stew! (If you’re doing it in batches take the meat out as it is done to avoid it burning).
- Put the beef back in the pot, add half of your vegetables, the tomatoes, wine and beef stock. Add the bay leaves and rosemary and bring the pot to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about an hour, until the meat is almost tender, then add the other half of the vegetables and the barley and continue to cook for another thirty minutes or so until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked through.
- Season to taste and devour.