Thursday, January 16, 2014

Italian Beef Stew

Yum, this beef stew recipe is pure perfection.

Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites from Cooking Light

  • About 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot 
  • About 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the stew at the end if necessary) 
  • 1 1/2-2 lb. cubed beef or beef stew meat 
  • 1 cup grape juice with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced Italian tomatoes, undrained (unsalted if desired–it’s not the worst idea because a lot of salt is going into this recipe, so lower sodium products can help you control the sodium content) 
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock or 1 1/2 cups water + 1 1/2 teaspoons beef base 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (substitute: I used 3/4 tsp. dried oregano)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (substitute: I used 3/4 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 8-10 ounces sliced baby portabella or cremini mushroooms 
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 
Instructions: Chop the onions, first batch of carrots, and the garlic and set it aside. Heat about a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a stock pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are tender and translucent.

Add the garlic and saute it for about 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Remove it from the pan and set it aside.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. In a shallow dish, whisk together 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Toss the beef in the flour and then transfer the beef to the pot. Cook the beef on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, browning it on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Combine the juice and vinegar and pour the juice/vinegar mixture into the pan and allow it to deglaze the pan (loosen up the cooked bits on the bottom of the pan). Scrape it regularly for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about 2/3.

Return the meat and onion mixture to the pan. Add the undrained canned tomatoes, broth, and water. Strip the thyme and oregano leaves from their stems and then chop up about 2 teaspoons of each. Add those to the stew mixture along with 1 bay leaf. Add your mushrooms and some more chopped carrot to the stew. Bring it to a boil and then cover the stew and reduce the heat to a steady simmer for about 1 1/2-2 hours or until the beef is tender.

Discard the bay leaf and then add some chopped parsley and basil and season with salt to taste. Serve it with crusty bread. Makes about 8 servings.

Freezer Instructions: Prepare through deglazing the pan. Place all of the ingredients except for the water, fresh basil, and fresh parsley into a freezer bag or freezer safe container and freeze. Freeze the herbs separately in a small freezer safe bag. When ready to serve, place the contents of the large freezer bag and 1/2 cup of water into a slow cooker and cook on high for 6- 8 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. 1 hour before serving, add fresh herbs.

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