Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Best Beef Stew

-3 slices of light center-cut bacon, finely chopped (I used Smithfield)
-1 1/2 lbs bottom round beef, cut into 1'' cubes (don't use pre-cut stew meat: the pieces are usually uneven)
-3 T all-purpose flour
-1/2 t kosher salt
-1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
-Cooking spray
-2 small sweet onions, diced
-1/2 lb baby carrots, halved or quartered if they're big
-1/2 head of garlic, pressed (~1 T)
-1 1/2 T tomato paste
-1 T hot Hungarian paprika
-3 anchovies packed in olive oil, minced
-3 sprigs fresh oregano
-3 sprigs fresh thyme
-1 can diced fire-roasted unsalted tomatoes, not drained (I used Muir Glen)
-1 1/4 cups Merlot or another dry red wine (do NOT use cooking wine. use a wine that you would drink.)
-2 cups unsalted beef stock (I used Medford Farms)

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Put the cubed beef in a large resealable plastic bag along with the flour, kosher salt, and pepper. Shake it around and make sure the beef is evenly coated.

3) Put the chopped bacon in a dutch oven, or another large oven-safe pot with a lid. Turn the heat to medium. Stir it around occasionally, and cook until it crisps. Remove it with a slotted spoon.

4) Brown the cubed beef in 3 batches; make sure you don't crowd the beef, otherwise it won't brown properly. If it sticks to the bottom of the pot, that means it's not ready to be turned over. Tongs come in handy when flipping. Use cooking spray as necessary. Remove the beef from the pot.

5) Turn the heat to medium low, saute the onions until they soften, and then add the carrots to the pot. Saute and stir occasionally until the vegetables are slightly browned, ~15 minutes total.

6) Add the garlic, tomato paste, and paprika and stir it around until the paprika is fragrant, ~1 minute.

7) Add the broth, wine, tomatoes, anchovies, oregano, thyme, and bacon, and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Bring stew to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add the beef and its juices.

8) Cover the pot, but leave a little crack for steam to escape, and put it in the oven. Stir the stew every half hour. The beef should be fork-tender in about 2 hours.

9) Remove the herbs, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6-8 (nutritional information for 8 provided in parentheses)
1 1/3 cup (1 cup):
275 calories (206.25)
6.67g fat (5g)
15.67g carbohydrates (11.75g)
1.33g fiber (1g)
28.17g protein (21.13g)