Kaili loves to cook—from comfort food to fine cuisine—and was the recipient of a silver medal in a food and wine matching competition.
Not Like Your Grandma Used to Make
Who doesn't love beef stew? This dish has been a classic for centuries, with the first recipes appearing in France in the 14th century. Guillaume Tirel, also known as Taillevent, was chef to the French kings starting with Philip VI in 1326. He is also generally credited with writing the Viandier, a collection of medieval "haute cuisine" recipes. In this book, Taillevent described stewing techniques and the proper spices to be used when stewing meats.
Every country in which beef is commonly consumed seems to have embraced stew and created its own versions. In countries with colder climates, stews tend to have thicker, richer broths bursting with flavor. This stew is one of those.
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|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 20 min
- 4 heads garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for roasting garlic
- 2 pounds top sirloin beef, cubed
- 6 tablespoons flour, for coating beef cubes
- 1/4 cup butter
- 4 medium-size shallots, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
- 1 medium-size red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium-size yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups beef stock
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups robust red wine
- 3 medium red-skin potatoes, cubed, skins on
- 1 cup tawny port
- 2-3 tablespoons roux (see recipe below)
How to Make a Roux
Roux is a simple mixture of butter and flour that is used to thicken soups, stews, and gravies. The ratio of butter to flour is 1:1. This particular roux is a "roux blanc," as the butter and flour are cooked only long enough to combine the butter and flour. Roux is usually used at the beginning of a recipe, but in this case, we will be adding it to the stew at the end.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Stir until well blended.
You can make the roux in advance and set it aside until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. To roast the garlic, peel the heads to remove as much of the outer papery covering as possible without loosening the individual cloves. With a sharp knife, slice off about 1/8" or so from the top of each clove. This doesn't have to be precise; just remove enough to allow the olive oil to penetrate the cloves better. Place the heads of garlic in a pie tin or other oven proof dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set them aside to cool.
- To prepare the meat, remove the string from the sirloin and trim away any fat. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Fill a paper or plastic bag with the flour (you can season the flour with a little salt and pepper if you like) and then add the cubed beef. Close the bag and shake it about for a minute to evenly coat the beef with flour. Spread the beef cubes on a large baking sheet and brown for about 20 minutes in the oven, turning occasionally so all sides are nicely browned.
- In a large stock pot, melt the butter and then add the sliced shallots. Sauté for one minute. Add the celery, cubed mushrooms and the red and yellow peppers and sauté for another three or four minutes.
- Next, add the browned beef cubes, the beef stock, all herbs and the red wine. Bring this mixture to a quick boil, stirring frequently to prevent the beef from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes while you peel the garlic.
- To peel the roasted garlic, just pluck the cloves from the base of the garlic bulb and give them a gentle squeeze to remove the roasted garlic from its papery coverings. Add the potatoes and the roasted garlic to the stew mixture and simmer for about another 15 minutes.
- Add the tawny port and simmer a further 10 minutes. You can test to see if the potatoes are done at this point. If they are still a little hard, just continue to simmer the stew for a few minutes longer until potatoes are soft.
- Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems (the leaves will have come away from the stems and integrated into the stew). Add the roux, 1 tablespoon at a time, until your gravy is the thickness you like. You can also add more wine if you feel that there isn't enough gravy, or if the mixture becomes too thick.
- Spoon the stew into bowls and garnish with crostinis or small melba toast squares. Enjoy!
This is a big, robust stew that calls for a big, robust wine. You might be tempted to go with a Cabernet Sauvignon; something bold from California will work very well.
From Bordeaux, I would suggest looking to Saint-Julien. An older Beychevelle will work wonderfully with this stew; its earth, spice and tobacco characteristics will stand up nicely to the savory broth.
For something different, how about an older sweet wine? As sweet wines age, they often take on flavors like mushroom and nuts. An old white Pineau des Charentes may surprise!