Wintery weather, sunny and cold, the best time of year to enjoy a beef stew. We decided to cook an old-fashioned version, with red wine, bay leaf, mustard and black pepper. And patience of course, because it will take hours.
Regardless if you want to cook a Flemish Stew, Bœuf Bourguignon, Daube à la Provençale or this beef stew, you must use fatty, structured meat. The idea to use lean meat because fat is unhealthy or altogether wrong is one to forget quickly. Fat, structured meat is the key to a delicious stew. In general you’re looking for meat from the neck or the shoulder (beef chuck roast, sucade, paleron). When in doubt, ask your butcher.
Most recipes suggest dicing the meat. We didn’t want to do that. When cutting the meat before serving, we followed the structure of the meat, which gives the plate a rustic feel.
We served the beef stew with a beet root salad and cranberry compote.
A rich beer or a full-bodied red wine will be a great accompaniment with the stew. The dish comes with some sweetness (the stew, the salad and the compote, obviously) so the wine should have some acidity and tannins. A robust wine with aromas of dark fruit (plums, blackberries, cherries), a touch of oak and a long taste will be perfect.
What You Need
- 400 grams of excellent Fat, Structured Beef
- 50 grams of organic Bacon
- Red Wine
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley, Sage)
- Black Pepper
What You Do
Heat a heavy iron skillet, pat the meat dry with kitchen paper, add butter to the pan and fry until golden-brown. Reduce the heat and remove the meat from the pan. Add the sliced bacon and fry until golden. Add the shallot and glaze. Return the meat to the pan, add red wine, some water, mustard, bay leaves, bouquet garni and crushed black pepper. Allow to simmer for 6+ hours. You could close the pan with a lid. We prefer to cook it without a lid. The meat will take longer to become tender and soft. Our impression is that a stew prepared in a skillet without a lid is more moist. In all cases check the pan every 30 minutes, turn the meat and add water if required.
You could reduce the jus or turn it into a sauce, but you could also keep it as is.
What You Need – Beet Root Salad
- One Beet Root
- Excellent Olive Oil
- White Wine Vinegar
- Black Pepper
What You Do – Beet Root Salad
The day before wash the beetroot and wrap in aluminium foil. Leave in the oven on 180° Celsius or 355° Fahrenheit for 45 – 60 minutes depending on the size. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
The next day peel the beet root and use a vegetable slicer (or mandoline) to make ridges. This will not only make the dish look more inviting, it will also enhance the taste given there is more coated surface and more air when chewing it. Make a simply, relatively acidic dressing with olive oil and vinegar. Finely chop the shallot and add to the dressing. Test a small slice of beet with the dressing and adjust when necessary. Perhaps some fresh black pepper? If you’re happy with the combination, toss the slices with the dressing making sure everything is nicely coated.
2 thoughts on “Classic Beef Stew”
>> “The idea to use lean meat because fat is unhealthy or altogether wrong is one to forget quickly. Fat, structured meat is the key to a delicious stew.”
This I definitely agree with. Long, slow cooking hits two birds with one stone.
First, it melts the fat and allows the meat’s deeper flavors to give the stew dimension. Second, the slow cooking tenderizes an otherwise tough cut of meat.
Thanks, we couldn’t agree more!
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