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Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Great Beef Stew inspired by Chef John's Beef Merlot

Based on one of my favorite sources for recipes, Chef John at Food Wishes, we had a great beef stew last night. I followed his method except first fried about a half pound of bacon and set the bacon aside to add in later. Then, I browned the seasoned beef really well and I started with 6 lbs of fresh trimmed beef chuck. I put the heat on high and even my super huge nonstick pot could get some of the beef a nice golden crust - that's what you want, brown yummy goodness! The butcher man at Kroger was really nice to cut me fresh roasts from the back since they only had one in the meat case. Then he gave me a free 50 gas pts for my "inconvenience".. what a nice guy!

After I browned the big chunks of chuck beef, I dumped the bacon grease out (leaving the browned goodness stuck to the bottom of my pot) and added fresh olive oil. Then, I threw the roughly chopped 2 onions, a package of carrots chopped into large pieces, and a package of celery hearts chopped into large pieces. I browned all of the veggies for a good while until they were golden browned on some sides. I think I learned that step from Pioneer Woman - she browned her carrots and such before a pot roast. Since all my portions are larger, you can see I was making a double batch in a giant pot, and I am glad I did because honestly there wasn't that much leftover - probably not enough to freeze, I think we will easily eat it in a day or two.

After the veggies were browned (season with S&P to taste), I started the wine portion of Chef John's instructions - I put in 2 cups of wine (didn't double it but then added another cup later to cook down so I'd recommend at least 3 cups to start). I added 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, chopped, too. I let the veggies and wine cook until the wine was reduced to half. Then I added 3 cups of beef stock and the rest of the ingredients - a bundle of fresh thyme, some bay leaves, a good bunch of halved mushrooms, a tablespoon of flour and instead of more flour, I used 1 packet of onion soup mix. I put the top on and let it simmer for 1.5 hours. I checked it a few times and realized I could add the rest of my beef stock carton (the 4th cup) and another cup of wine, and it was still plenty of time to cook all that liquid down. By the time it was 1.5 hours in, and time to take the top off, there was hardly and liquid but enough to keep going and the meat was starting to get tender - I added the crumbled bacon in. By the end of 2 hours, everything was perfect. Since I was low on liquid, I finished the stew with about a half stick of salted butter which made it pretty awesome. Since we don't usually eat potatoes, I served the stew with mashed/pureed buttery creamy cauliflower with chopped green onions mixed in. The Husband said "this is one of your best". We typically eat low carb but a bit of soup mix or 1 table spoon of flower (6g carbs) doesn't affect us negatively and really made a big difference in the velvety glaze at the end -- instead of soft meat/veggies sitting in brown water. I love Chef John's recipes - so far each one has been excellent. I love his videos and listening to his cheerful and humorous description of how to do the recipes. What a cool job he has! I hope you try his Beef Merlot, it's wonderful!

Here is Chef John's original recipe. I didn't take a picture but the end product looks just like his except mine had halved mushrooms and crumbled bacon throughout as well. Next time I might try some tomato paste in there but not sure - it was so good as is!