With winter here in full force (thank you Mother Nature for the lovely ice storm yesterday by the way), we are all about comfort food that warms your soul. It’s funny as growing up I hated traditional beef stew. It just was yucky. It wasn’t soup and it wasn’t beef roast with broth. It was just.. I don’t know yucky. Now my family loved it but not this girl. It’s funny as I can remember this one time my Mom saw Julia Child make beef stew using red wine and she tried to replicate it. Now mind you, my mother never drank. I think maybe once a year IF that and usually that was a ‘High-Ball’ drink that after one drink she was tipsy giddy. So she had my Dad get 2 bottles of red wine just in case she messed it up. Well somewhere along the way she must have tasted the wine because 1 ENTIRE BOTTLE went into a pot of stew and 1 ENTIRE BOTTLE went into my Mother’s tummy! LOL Yes, my mother was drunk. I can still remember her laughing for no reason, tears running down her face and grabbing a handful of flour and just throwing it at my father telling him to ‘hush’ and eat the stew. See the thing is, that stew was inedible. I mean these were BIG bottles of wine and literally you could have gotten drunk off from eating it. So yeah, I think it was then that kind of turned me against stew…and wine.
However as I got older my taste buds changed and I started to truly appreciate flavors. While I never developed a liking for wine I did develop a fond love of classic French Stew. Now stews come in various ways – those with beer in it, those with red wine and even though with all stock. I like ’em all and make them often in the cold winter months.
I guess my true love for beef stew stems from my love of the movie/musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers“. I can remember growing up, and even as I got older and lived on my own my sister would come over, we’d make a batch of something to eat and then sit on the couch singing at the top of our lungs along with the movie. Now there’s a scene in the movie where Adam (the lead character and oldest sibling) heads into town to find himself a wife. As he wanders around town he stops in at the local bar and grabs a bite to eat. There is Milly dishing out her infamous stew. As she plops a big ol’ helping on his plate Adam asks for the ketchup. Milly stands up proudly and says “My stew can stand on its own feet!” Sure enough that stew won Adam over, sans the ketchup. That there I think is what made me want to revisit this whole stew thing. See I’m a ketchup girl through and through. I mean I’m from Pittsburgh and we are comprised of Steelers, Penguins and Heinz Ketchup after all. LOL
Now I won’t lie, the first 5 or so batches were pretty awful. The meat was tough, veggies were hard or it just had no flavor however I was persistent to make this. I wanted to be like Milly – I wanted my food to stand on its own without the ketchup… and maybe land me a husband *wink* LOL
Well I’m happy to say that after many, many attempts at this dish, I finally nailed it. I’ve been making this stew the same way for years now. It’s hearty and so packed full of flavor. This dish is a must in our house in the winter months.
I typically make this in the crockpot and let it cook all day. Nothing is better than coming home to a house that smells of this while you’ve been at work. You literally run into the house. Since Mr. Fantabulous works from home it also allows me to torture him with the smells. He’s been trained to not touch or take off the lid so he just has to deal with the amazing smells all day. Trust me, by the time I walk in the door he’s going nuts begging to eat dinner ASAP! LOL
So when Mother Natures decides to get a bug up her butt and bring on some nasty cold wintery weather your way, throw this in the crock and sit there snuggled under your blanket while this cooks and just relax. Let her dump a foot of snow on you – your belly will be full and warm!Print
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2” cubes (I prefer chuck roast)
- 2 Tbl vegetable oil
- 6–9 small red potatoes (if they are larger, just cut into 1 1/2” cubes leaving the skin on)
- 2 to 3 carrots cut into 1/2” slices
- 2 large yellow onions, minced
- 2 springs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 2 cups good red wine (or burgundy wine)
- 4 cups beef stock (low or no sodium if using canned)
- 1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups peas (frozen/thawed or canned/drained)
- 1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced into 1/2” slices
- Pat the beef dry and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and pepper.
- Place 1/2 cup flour in a re-sealable plastic bag.
- Add the beef to the bag, several pieces at a time, and shake to coat completely.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the 2 tsp oil.
- In batches (don’t overcrowd the pan), add the beef and cook, turning, for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned on all sides.
- Transfer the browned pieces to the slow cooker, add 2 more tsp of oil to the sauté pan and continue browning the rest of the beef.
- Place all beef in the Crock Pot.
- Add the rest of the oil (~2 tsp) to the pain and add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are softened and lightly brown.
- Add in the stock, 1 1/2 cups wine, thyme and bay leaves to the pan.
- Bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of awesomeness (this is key to the flavor!) on the bottom of the pan.
- Pour this all over top the meat in the Crock Pot.
- Add in the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms on top.
- Cook for 8-9 hours on low or 6-7 on high.
- When done, put the slow cooker on high and whisk together the 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup wine.
- Pour the mixture in along with the peas, replace the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes for the sauce to thicken.
- Remove the bay leaves, adjust salt and pepper.