Pot Roast. Beef Stew. Call it what you will.
I used to call pot roast, “stringy-pull-apart-meat-with-gross-mushy-carrots,” as a kid. It was horrifying. Daylight Savings Time was the first indicator of not only a time change, but a change in the food coming out of the kitchen. Outdoor grilling, salads and “lighter fare,” would soon be a thing of the past and the beginning of a very long winter ahead.
Walking in the door after school would be a slap right in the face… the aroma was such a put off. I had to pull my shirt sleeve down just to cover my nose from inhaling the smell. Ugh. There was no hiding from the brown bubbling caldron (the crockpot). The long and arduous anticipation of dinnertime hung heavy in my thoughts. I did everything I could to do my homework. Breakfast couldn’t come soon enough.
This meal made my dad happy…
like a 2 bowl kind of “happy” meal. I on the other hand had to dig way down deep to muster loving affections for my parents because on pot roast night, I felt unloved.
Fast forward to last year. I was cooking for my parents and a neighbor. I found it necessary to expand outside of my own realm of cooking and eating. My dad is a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. My mom on the other hand is a more “adventurous eater.” My meal selections for them included more vegetables, greens, less meat, less gluten, less dairy yet never short on flavor. Mom appeared content with the selections and voiced her opinion with positive remarks.
Dad on the other hand needed more meat.
One snowy day, (out of the goodness of my heart,) I decided to cook both of my parents Red Wine Braised Beef Stew. I’m not certain, but I may have hit my head! I never thought the day would come in which I would be cooking the very thing that made me shiver uncontrollably.
I started by browning the pancetta.
The aroma of bacon hung in the air. No need to cover my nose. Next, I moved to seasoning the beef chuck with a generous sprinkling of Chicago Joe, (my garlic-peppercorn blend). In the same pot in which the pancetta had cooked, I seared the beef chuck in batches. This ensures a nice golden crust and seals in the necessary juices. An onion cooked to caramelized perfection added a fragrant layer in the air. I deglazed the pot with a semi-dry, yet juicy Cabernet Sauvignon.
The scent coming from the Dutch oven was absolute magic. I had not dropped to my knees nor did I pass out in a cold sweat! This beef stew was smelling utterly delectable.
Finally, the beef, pancetta, beef stock, baby potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and Herbal Fusion were added to the Dutch oven. I put the lid on the Dutch oven, set the timer for 3 hours and poured myself a glass of wine.
My husband joined us for dinner at my parents house that evening. He also has Beef Stew PTSD. Without mentioning a word, I ladled the first helping of stew into a bowl and served him as he sat at the dinner table. As I set the bowl down in front of him, he looked up at me without saying a word. He was rendered speechless, however his face spoke non-verbally to me, “are you trying to poison me?”
We prayed…to God (because we always pray before a meal,) and then took our first bite.
I could probably write an entire post on how delicious Red Wine Braised Beef Stew is and how my husband and I are official converts. Instead, I empower you to overcome your fear starting with pulling out your Dutch oven. If you need moral support, invite us over and we’d be happy to sit down with you and enjoy a bowl. I guarantee, you won’t need CPR.
- 4 oz pancetta
- 2 ½ lbs beef chuck into 1 inch chunks
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp Chicago Joe
- 1 medium to large yellow or white onion diced
- 2 cups red wine such as a Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot Noir
- 4 ¼ cups (about 33 oz) organic beef broth
- 2 lbs baby potatoes quartered
- 1 ¼ lb carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 lb baby bella or cremini mushrooms quartered
- 1 tbsp Herbal Fusion
- ¼ cup organic cornstarch
- In a large Dutch oven, add pancetta and cook over medium-high heat. With a wooden spoon stir occasionally until the pancetta is golden and browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Next, season the beef with sea salt, black pepper and Chicago Joe.
- In the same Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, sear the beef in batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the beef. Sear for about 4-5 minutes on one side, then using tongs, turn beef over and sear the other side, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate and continue working in batches until all of the beef has been seared.
- Now, add the onion to the Dutch oven on medium-high heat and cook until onions begin to soften and somewhat caramelize, about 4-5 minutes. Pour in the wine, being sure to scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine has reduced slightly, about 3-4 minutes.
- Then, add the beef, pancetta, beef stock, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and Herbal Fusion. Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook with a lid on until the beef is tender, about 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch with ¼ cup water until smooth. Pour into the Dutch oven and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Ladle stew into bowls and serve.
This recipe is an adaptation from @jakecohen