Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beef Stew

I've just posted the recipe for Adriana's Pork Stew, which is wonderful, but of course there's always Beef Stew and Chicken Stew, both of which go equally well with polenta.
Here is Marcella Hazan's beef stew recipe, which we also like very much. (See Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking) You must follow her recipe exactly, and do not (as I did the first time) revert to making it the way your mother did. This is better! Delicious and even--dare I say it--elegant!

Beef Stew with Red Wine and Vegetables
As always, read this over before you begin.

Oil (Canola) for browning
2 lbs. boneless beef chuck cut into 2 in. cubes (or buy lean stewing beef).
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 onion, cut into about 1 in. pieces, or 1 lb.small white onions
4 medium carrots (I don't add these but you can and probably should.)
4 celery stalks
1 and 1/2 pkgs. frozen peas, thawed (more if you haven't added carrots)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper.

1.Put some canola (or vegetable) oil into your pot. Choose a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Make sure the meat is well dried, then brown on all sides in the hot oil, making sure to add only enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Do successive batches as necessary, lifting out with a slotted spoon and placing on a plate.
2. Pour the fat out of the pan, pour in 1/2 cup of the wine and simmer for a few moments while using a wooden spoon to loosen the bits on the bottom. Remove pan from heat.
3. Peel the little onions and cut a cross in the root end of each one OR chop the big onion. If using carrots, cut them into sticks about 1/2 in. thick and 3 inches long.
Split the celery stalks lengthwise and cut into short sticks.
4. Now add the browned meat cubes, the onions, the olive oil, and the remaining cup of wine. Cover and turn heat to low.
When the meat has cooked for 15 minutes add the carrots (if you're using them), and after another 45 minutes, add the celery and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Continue cooking until the meat is tender when prodded with a fork. Then add the peas. Let everything cook together for another 15 minutes.
All together this stew should take about 2 hours to cook depending on the quality of the meat.
This recipe, like all stews, will taste even better when prepared a day or two in advance.
Notice that there are no tomatoes in this recipe!

Now serve this with freshly-made polenta as I described earlier, or with slices of grilled or roasted polenta.
This one is a winner!

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