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vintage beef stew serving in a decorative ceramic bowl, sprinkled with parsley.
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Vintage Beef Stew

This is a version of the classic beef stew recipe we all grew up with. It’s a family favorite for cold winter nights, and it’s perfect for busy weekdays because—with a little prep the night before—you can pop it in the crockpot and go.
Course Entree
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Author Michelle Frank

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. chuck roast trimmed and cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 tbsp. olive or canola oil more if needed
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 small bag pearl or cipollini onions trimmed (see notes)
  • 3/4 pound small potatoes cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 cup baby carrots cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary needles removed and minced, stem reserved
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley for serving
  • grated Romano cheese for serving optional

For the cooking liquid (5 cups: see notes)

  • beef broth
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • red wine

Instructions

  • Dry the meat with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add 1/4 of the meat cubes. Brown the meat cubes deeply on two sides, then remove to a bowl and add the next small batch of meat cubes. Repeat until all meat cubes have been browned, adding more oil as necessary.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the diced onion, adding more oil to the pot if needed. Sauté until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary (stem too!), and bay leaves; sauté an additional minute. Stir in the red wine to deglaze the pot. Stir for 30 seconds, being sure to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. (SEE RECIPE NOTES FOR WORK-AHEAD OPTION) Add the cooking liquid. Stir until combined. 
  • At this point, you can add the contents of the pot to a slow-cooker, along with the meat and any accumulated juices, a couple of pinches of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Set on low and leave alone for at least 6 hours and up to 8. OR, you can add the meat and juices back to the pot, season, bring to a boil, then place in a 325-degree oven until the meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours.
  • Skim any excess grease from the top of the stew with a spoon, or add as much of the broth as you can easily remove to a fat separator (see notes). Add the degreased broth back to the pot or slow-cooker.
  • Steam or par-boil the remaining vegetables until you can pierce them easily with a paring knife (there shouldn't be any resistance at all). Then I add the vegetables to the stew for the last 15-30 minutes of cook time and turn the slow-cooker to high.
  • Remove the bay leaves and rosemary stem. Ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and a light sprinkling of Romano cheese. Serve. Enjoy!

Notes

1. To easily remove the skins of the onions, boil them for 2-3 minutes. Cut off the root. They should squeeze right out of their skins.
2. For cooking liquid, I like to use a mix including red wine (up to an additional cup), beef broth, water, and mushroom rehydrating liquid: for this, I soak about 1/2 cup of dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of scalding water for 45 minutes, then strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, paper towels, or a coffee filter. You can either discard the mushrooms or chop them up finely and add to the stew. (Make sure to rinse them first.)
3. This stew is great when made a day in advance. You can skip the degreasing step in this case: simply refrigerate and use a large spoon to remove any solidified fat on top of the stew before reheating. Reheat gently on the stove-top.
WORK-AHEAD: you can complete all steps up to (and including) deglazing the pot with wine. Store the contents of the pot in the refrigerator overnight, then add to the crockpot along with the cooking liquid.