I know some of you are avoiding meat meals because of Lent, but over here Ricardo’s last blood test showed that he is a little anemic, and so I’ve been feeding him red meat more often than is usual. This recipe, which I’ve developed and improved on over the years, is a real favourite of his, so I’ll pass it on to you. Surely you have Sunday dinners to think about, even during Lent!
A few notes first: I have a wonderful meat market available, and their beef stew cubes produce a finished product so tender that my husband comments on it every single time he eats the stew. If you are not so lucky, consider buying a boneless chuck-eye roast and trimming and cutting it yourself. Also, the wine I use is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo by Citra, low-cost but full of flavour, especially for cooking. Now, to the recipe!
1 1/2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into approx. 1 1/2 in. pieces
1 lg. onion, chopped, about 2 c.
2 T vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
4 cloves garlic (or less if you prefer) minced or put through garlic press
2 c. low-sodium beef broth (homemade is lengthy to do; I buy mine here)
anchovy paste – a small squirt from the tube (or 2 teas. minced fillets)
1 T tomato paste (keep the rest of the can in your freezer)
2 lg carrots, peeled and chunked on the small side
2 sm yams, peeled and chunked small
1 1/2 c red wine
2 bay leaves
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 teas dried)
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and chunked
Fresh ground pepper (and salt, if using)
Pat meat dry. Using Dutch oven or your equivalent large pot, turn heat to med. high, add 1 T oil, and when oil is very hot, add half of beef cubes, turning until browned on all sides. Put cubes on plate, repeat with remaining oil and beef cubes.
Reduce heat to medium, put in onion, cook moderately until onion is soft. No need to brown, Then add garlic, stir, and put in browned beef, draining any juices from plate into the pot. Add carrots and stir everything around, allowing the carrot chunks to heat up a bit.
Add anchovy and tomato paste, stir and let cook for just a minute or two, then add beef broth, stirring and incorporating any browned bits in bottom of pan. Increase heat so that stew begins to simmer, then add bay leaves, thyme, and wine. Bring to simmer, cover, reduce heat to keep at a simmer, and cook for about an hour.
Add potatoes and yams and cook until tender, 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of your chunks. Remove bay leaves if you can, or just pluck them out when you’re serving, and finish with a grind of fresh pepper. Enjoy!
By the way, the small amounts of anchovies and tomato paste are there because they are high in glutamate, which increases a rich, meaty taste, so don’t leave them out! I keep my tube of anchovy paste in the fridge and just use a bit; it lasts for a long time.
This stew has a thin broth, which we like because we mash up the potatoes in it as we eat. If you prefer something thicker, add 1/4 c. flour after you put the beef back in the pot and stir constantly until it is all incorporated, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. When you add the broth later, add it slowly, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot so that the flour and the broth combine smoothly. This will give you a yummy thicker result.