Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Amazing Beef Stew

Now, I have told you when something is not so great, so you know I'll be honest - but I think this was the best beef stew I have ever made! (I'm on a roll!) And I'm not just bragging - well maybe a little! Sometimes just the right combo of ingredients can make all the difference and probably the next time I make this it will be great, but you never know since this was a throw what you have in the fridge kind of stew. I made this stew ahead of time and reheated it in a dutch oven in the coals of our fire down in Big Basin this weekend and I have to say this gave it a whole other lovely browned crust! The other reason that this was so good was that I served it with a big dollop of horseradish creme fraich sauce. I had a fresh horseradish root in the fridge that I finely grated into the creme and then topped it with some chives - of course if you can't find the fresh root, use a good quality jarred, and you could also just use sour cream. The other amazing thing about this stew was that I read a Jamie Oliver idea to use the stew leftovers to flavor a risotto - which was perfect as I had just a small amount leftover. For that you basically start out and make a regular risotto and when it's almost done add your leftover stew including any veggies and cook another 10 min or so until it all melts together -then stir in a little parmesan and butter - doesn't get much more comforting than that!

Beef Stew serves 6

4 pounds beef stew meat (I used Prather's Cross Rib Roast and cut it into about 2 inch pieces)
couple tablespoons oil
1 onion chopped
2 small leeks chopped
2 small fennel bulbs chopped
4-5 carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
3 tablespoons brandy
2 cups red wine
about 2 cups chicken stock
about 1/4 cup mixed dried mushrooms
about 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (if small keep whole, otherwise quarter)

Make sure the beef is patted dry then s&p it all over and cook just a few at a time in a large dutch oven on pretty high heat so they get brown. Don't crowd them or they will just steam. Remove the first group to a large bowl and keep going until it's all browned. Then add the onions and leeks and saute about 5 min. Add the carrots and brown another couple min. Remove the veggies to the meat bowl and add the brandy to the pan - be careful as it could ignite - just cook it down and scrap up the lovely little browned bits, will only take a moment, then add the wine and let cook about 15 min. or until reduced by about 1/2. Lastly add all the beef & veggies back into the pot along with the mushrooms and pour in enough broth so that it is mostly covered - about 1 inch from the top. Cover and bring to a boil on the stove and then put in the oven at 325 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours - you want it to be tender. Now my really large dutch oven doesn't fit in my oven, so I didn't have room to cook the potatoes in it; instead I boiled a few yukons in another pot and then added them to the mixture when it was done. If you need to thicken the sauce - which I did - then you can remove all the stuff and add 2 tablespoons butter mushed up with 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan and cook down - or you could mash up a potato... I served over rice, but it would be equally good over boiled egg noodles. And don't forget about the risotto - save some stew for that!

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