Ahhh, fall. The crispness of the air as it begins to cool, the chill in your chest as you take that first brisk breath. The sting of the frost, the bite of the wind, the…the hell with that! This is exactly why I moved to L.A. Three-hundred-plus days of beach barbeques until the weather dips down into the 70s. Then of course, you’re forced to move inside. Ugh! I get goose bumps just thinking about it…
I grew up in the Midwest—northern Indiana to be exact—and I miss the cold Lake Michigan wind chill about as much as I miss acne. Ten-degree mornings and ice cold leather car seats? F that! If I can’t get a sunburn on Thanksgiving, I’m bummed! So pardon me Mr. Gore, while I release these fluorocarbons. Bring on the global warming, Woo Hoo!
But, we still like our fall food out here on the left coast, and when I feel it dip below the 80s, I like to bring out the soups and the chilies. So how about a little beef stew to get things crackin’? What I really like about the following recipe is how it magically changes from rank tasting to righteous during the long simmer. You’ll see. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.
Katt’s Bitchin’ Beef Stew
¼ cup canola oil for frying
½ cup of all-purpose flour
3 pounds of boneless chuck roast cut into 2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 bottle of dry red wine
6-8 sprigs of thyme
6 smashed garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 ½ cups of beef stock
2 large potatoes peeled and cubed
8 carrots peeled and cut in 2-inch cubes
1 package each of frozen pearl onions and frozen peas
1 pd of fresh sliced mushrooms
Italian parsley for garnish
Horseradish sour cream
A couple of things before we start: some people say to use a good bottle of wine, some say cheap. I’ve used both and I go with cheap as this is a melding of favors between the beef stock, meat and vegetables and I can’t differentiate between the taste of the different wines—especially if you top this with the horseradish sour cream. Also, I prefer to brown and fry using canola oil because of its higher heat tolerance, but you can certainly brown your meat in olive oil, just watch that you don’t burn the bottom of the pot.
So once you cut your roast into cubes, season the meat with salt and pepper and spread the flour out onto a plate. Heat the oil in a large stock pot and coat the cubes of meat with the flour. You’ll have to brown the cubes in batches and they will give off some juice which will mix with the flour and create a mini roux. Once each batch is browned, remove it and reserve in a bowl. After all of the meat is browned add the bottle of wine and beef stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate the browned bits and turn up the heat. Add the thyme, garlic, bay leaves, the browned meat, and salt and pepper to taste. And when I say taste, at this point it’s gonna taste funky. Just bring it up to a rolling simmer, then turn it down to low, put the cover on the pot and leave it alone for two hours.
Now you can add the carrots, mushrooms and the potatoes. Bring it back to a low simmer, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and replace the cover. (Give ‘er a taste NOW. Way different than the first time, isn’t it?) Wait another forty five minutes and add the bags of frozen onions and peas. Let that cook for an additional fifteen minutes while you prepare the Horseradish Sour Cream. Mix a cup of sour cream with two tablespoons of prepared horseradish. Drizzle in some olive oil and add a little salt and pepper and you are now ready to indulge! Ladle the stew into bowls, top with the sour cream and enjoy in front of the fireplace.
And if I was you I’d have a second bowl. It might get down into the 60s tonight.