I picked up the January / February issue of Cooking Light magazine, lured in by the promise of a "Chicken Makeover!" because in addition to "25 Quick & Easy Weeknight Inspirations" I was kind of hoping that they might renovate a chicken coop, Peter Fallico style. Truth be told, I haven't even cracked open the chicken section yet, because I got distracted by...Italian Beef Stew. I love anything where tomatoes are prominent, but not the feature (nothing else provides such a depth of flavour) and this seemed like it would probably be that kind of a dish.
If you know what's good for you (I don't) you'll start cooking your stew good and early in the day or even the day before (I didn't) otherwise, you could be eating at 9pm (we did). Which is all well and good when you have a late lunch and a new baby, but less unimportant when you have a dinner guest. Lucky for us Steve is obliging and amused Lenny while we all waited and snacked on cheese.
What you'll need:
7 teaspoons of olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cup into cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
3 3/4 cups chopped seeded, peeled plum tomato (about 2 lbs)
1 1/2 cups fat free, lower sodium beef stock
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
1 (8 ounce) package cremini mushrooms, quartered
3/4 cup (1/4 inch thick) carrot slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium - high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; saute 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute for 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan. Place 1/4 cup flour in shallow dish, sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add half of beef to pan; saute for 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure.
It's worth noting here that you want to build flavour here by browning the beef and leaving all those tasty brown bits at the bottom of your pan. This is where a lot of your depth and complexity of flavour will come from.
3. Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Return meat and the onion mixture to pan. Add tomato and next six ingredients; bring to a boil.
I should point out that I used canned tomatoes (naturally) and that I omitted the mushrooms because, when it comes to mushrooms, I'm a picky four year. Mushrooms? Gross.
4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Uncover and stir in sliced carrot.
6. Simmer, uncovered for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard Bay Leaf.
7. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and parsley.
I also garnished the top with some fresh basil and parsley. This recipe yields 8 cups of stew.
This one was worth the wait, I think. Thanks, Cooking Light Magazine! In fact, the next morning, when I opened the fridge and saw the leftovers, my first thought was WINNING! Don't judge me. This was like a week and a half ago, when my reaction was topical. I liked this so much, in fact, that I think this Irish gal is going to whip this up on St. Paddy's Day instead of the traditional Irish stew with some Soda Bread to help legitimize things. Let me know if you try it...and of course, enjoy!