Just a few days ago it was windy and cold at my house with a dusting of snow…. it’s melted now – the sun is bright but the air is chilly.
I’m still wearing a thick wool scarf and gloves to stay warm on my morning walk.
This recipe for beef, wine and onion stew is adapted from the wonderful book My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl. It’s cozy and satisfying, just perfect when you’re craving a hot dinner.
The ingredients are familiar and straight-forward. I added fresh parsnips because I had them, and some petite whole onions from the freezer. A couple of shakes of smoked paprika went in too, but it doesn’t have to.
Make this stew when you’re not in a hurry. You can’t rush the cooking time, and you’ll be rewarded with deep flavor.
Pull together some fresh celery, carrots and herbs and a drinkable bottle of red wine…get two bottles! One to serve with the stew if you’d like.
Next is some chopping and cutting, stirring and sweating (the onions, not you.)
At this point I recommend some serious couch time while the fragrant mix does its thing for a few hours.
Make some tea. Pop a little corn. Watch Netflix. You deserve to lay around a bit.
Your house will smell delicious.
After you’ve done all this chopping and sitting, you’ll feel smug knowing you’ve made yourself a great dinner for a couple of nights. This recipe makes a big, hearty pot, that’s warm and satisfying.
Serve the stew in deep bowls with buttered mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles – either is wonderful here.
- 2 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1 small yellow onion or shallot
- 1 stalk celery
- 3 strips of bacon
- 2 tbsp butter plus more to saute mushrooms
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- Few springs of fresh thyme or a tsp. of dried thyme
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- Olive oil
- 2 pounds beef chuck cubed and dried with a paper towel
- Salt and pepper
- Flour about 1/2 a cup, placed in a bag
- 1 cup cognac or brandy
- Bottle of red wine I used Pinot Noir
- 14 oz. bag of petite whole pearl onions frozen okay
- 1 cup of beef stock
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms quartered
- Butter for mushrooms
- Wash, peel and slice the carrots and parsnips
- Peel and dice the onion or shallot
- Wash and slice the celery
- Cut the bacon into small pieces
- Place carrots, parsnips, onion, celery, bacon and 1 tbsp. of the butter in an oven-proof casserole or dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat and cook until the ingredients are a little golden, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the chopped garlic and fresh thyme, continue cooking until the mixture is soft, another 5 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste and continue stirring to combine all ingredients.
- Remove this mixture from the pot and transfer to another bowl and set aside.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pot with another tbsp. of butter. Salt and pepper the cubed beef, then add to the bag of flour and toss to lightly coat each piece.
- Add the beef to the pot in three small batches, turning each piece occasionally to ensure browning on each side. You may need to add a bit of additional olive oil to the pan in between batches. Remove each batch and set aside until all the pieces are browned and caramelized.
- Add the cognac to the pan and scrape the bottom and sides with your spoon to catch and incorporate all the browned bits that have accumulated. Return the beef and vegetables to the pot, add the bottle of red wine and the pearl onions, bay leaf, beef stock and paprika.
- Simmer the stew on the stove with the lid on for 3-4 hours on a gentle medium-low bubble, stirring occasionally.
- Before serving, remove the bay leaf and saute the cremini mushrooms in a tbsp or two of butter for 7-10 minutes until lightly golden. Season with a little salt and pepper and add to the stew.
- This stew tastes even better the next day. Remove the layer of hard fat and gently re-heat the mixture on low heat.
- Taste the stew, and adjust seasonings to taste.
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