january blues (drunken beef stew)
I probably don’t have to remind you, but just in case you misplaced your calendar, it is January. January 24th to be exact.
January is rough. January is a month-long holiday hangover. The snow, ice and cold has lost all of its December novelty. And it can seem like spring and relief are a lifetime away. January is not my favorite month (but the giraffes are cute).
However, January has its redeeming qualities. Namely, its compatibility for stews and soups. No one wants to sit down to a thick and hearty bowl of beef stew in August. But January and beef stew are made for one another.
Especially beef stew that has an entire bottle of wine in the mix. That’s a quick way to warm up your January.
Don’t worry about getting buzzed off this stew. It simmers for 2 hours, enough time to burn off almost all the alcohol. That being said, it definitely still has the flavor and scent of wine. I wouldn’t recommend driving afterward simply because something tells me that, “Officer, I swear the wine on my breath was just beef stew!” is not an excuse the fine ladies and gentlemen in blue will accept.
Drunken Beef Stew
3 tbsp. butter
2 pounds beef stew meat
2 tbsp. flour
1 bottle pinot noir wine (750 mL)
1 c. vegetable broth
1 pound red potatoes, quartered
10 oz. pearl onions, peeled
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into coins
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and Pepper
Melt butter over high heat in a large dutch oven. Add beef in 2-3 batches, browning each side. Add all beef back to the dutch oven. Sprinkle flour over beef and stir well. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until meat is tender and vegetables are soft.
Makes 10 servings.
Yes, this stew takes two hours to cook, but it only takes 10 minutes (or less) to make. This would be an excellent candidate for your slow cooker.
A word about your wine of choice, please, please, please don’t use expensive wine for this. The cheaper, the better. This beauty was $3.33.
You’ll be cooking this stuff for two hours. All delicacies will be cooked out in that time. Save your good wine for drinking (maybe with a bowl of stew).
A word on your beef. Please, please, please use good, local, delicious beef. Animals that lived a good life taste better. You want some marbling. Fat means flavor!
Melt three tablespoons of butter in your favorite red dutch oven over high heat.
Brown your stew meat in batches. You’ll want each side of each piece to touch the bottom of the pan. Browning the meat brings out the natural sugars and caramelizes them. In other words, it makes the stew yum.
Once all batches are browned, put all the meat back in the pot.
Sprinkle with flour.
Stir well. You’ll want the flour to soak up the beef juices and coat each piece.
Pour in your wine. Yes, I promise you want to put in the whole bottle.
And then put in all your other ingredients.
Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for two hours. Or until the beef is fall-apart tender and the veggies are all soft. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper as needed.
A note on the pearl onions. You are more than welcome to buy frozen ones, and I’m sure they’ll be amazing. But I used fresh. If you are intimidated by peeling all those little suckers, here’s an easy tip. Drop the whole onions (peel and all!) into a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl of ice water. Then cut the root end off and squeeze! The onions pop right out of their peels.
Serve it like we did, with a nice hunk of homemade, whole-grain bread to soak up all the thick wine sauce.
Babyface said, “I can’t even taste the wine!” I was worried this would taste like wine with some chunks in it, but the wine flavor is definitely nice and subtle. The long cooking time allows all the flavors to meld and mild.
You have about a week of January left. I suggest you go make this before the calendar pages shift over to February. February will bring us pink and red sprinkles, chocolate cupcakes and romantic dinners. This may be the last opportunity you get to wallow in your January mood until next year. Embrace it. For we’d never know how great spring was if we didn’t have January to compare it to.