City Gay and Country Gay

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

O.M.G. Stew

Dear City Gay:

It's cold in the country, and a nice, homey remedy is a hearty beef stew. As I perused the America's Test Kitchen cookbook, the beef stew stuck out. One of the reasons, beyond its savory appeal, was the picture. The earthy look of the beef, potatoes, carrots, and peas seemed to jump off the page. While I wouldn't normally examine a close-up of stew, I love the texture of this stew.

Last night, I decided it was beef stew night. Making the beef stew is about a three hour process, but sweet Julia Child, it is worth the wait. The combination of flavors - most notably the sweetness of the red wine and thyme - create a flavor that conjures homestyle Sunday dinners.

Apparently, the stew gets better after a couple of days, so I'm excited about the possible taste explosion that waits for me tomorrow.

The recipe follows.

Come back to me, City Gay. I'm missing you something fierce.

Country Gay

Beef Stew
Serves: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours (includes 2 hours simmering time)

1 (3-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (I bought the stew meat already cut up even though the cookbook advised against it)
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (5 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup frozen peas

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Dry the beef with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half the meat, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with 1 more tablespoon of the oil and the remaining beef.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the empty pot and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, thyme, bay leaves, and browned beef along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

3. Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Cover and continue to cook in the oven until the beef is tender, about 1 hour.

4. Remove the pot from the oven and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the peas and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.


City Gay said...

That looks delish. I think I'll make that in my new oven round soon.

Hey, I have a semi-related question maybe someone can answer:

A lot of recipes calling for tomato paste only use one or two tablespoons in general. Is it okay to freeze the rest? And how long does it keep in there?

Clay said...

Yes it is ok to freeze the rest... I've heard it suggested to actually put them in an ice cube tray so you get separate tablespoon-sized servings. Just transfer them to a ziplock bag once they are frozen. As for how long they keep, I'm not sure.

An alternative is to purchase tomate paste that comes in a tube rather than a can. That's how I get mine, and I find that I end up using it up before it ever goes bad.

City Gay said...

That's good to know! I just Googled it and see that Trader Joe's has a tube of tomato paste. I'm definitely going to go that route next time. I'm a big fan of toobs!

slambo said...

Totally good to know since I have a small can of tomato paste lacking one tablespoon of paste sitting in my fridge.