Beef Stew Chez Moi, Revisited
Serves 6 with plenty of leftovers
3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into two-inch pieces — cut from a 4 to 4-1/2 pound roast, trimmings reserved and cut into smaller pieces
3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional if necessary
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 bottle light- to medium-bodied red wine (for example, see our Everyday Reds page)
8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 large fresh bay leaves
Fresh thyme and rosemary
2 red bell peppers
3 strips of fresh orange peel, cut from an orange with a vegetable peeler
4 carrots, peeled and cut into six to eight equally-sized pieces each
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into six to eight equally-sized pieces each
2 large onions (see recipe for treatment), plus 1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound whole Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
1 cup pitted black olives (such as Kalamata or Niçoise)
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup beef broth or stock (canned is fine)
Equipment: a large piece of cheesecloth, at least 2 feet square, a roasting pan, a large Dutch oven with a lid, and a rimmed baking sheet
The night before: combine the beef, about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, four of the garlic cloves, two of the bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and the wine in a bowl or plastic bag. Mix well, cover or seal, and refrigerate overnight. You can also roast the peppers ahead any way you like to do it (I put them right on the gas burner to get them charred all over, then put them in a bowl covered with plastic until they cool off. Peel off the charred skin, then core them and slice the peppers and refrigerate).
The next day: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with two racks set in the lower third of the oven. Use 2 tablespoons of the oil to oil the bottom of the roasting pan, then put in the beef scraps and bacon pieces. Put the pieces of parsnips and two of the four carrots on the baking sheet and toss with 4 tablespoons of oil plus a little salt and pepper. Put the roasting pan on the top rack and the baking sheet on the lower rack and roast for 40 minutes, stirring two or three times until everything is nicely browned.
While the scraps and vegetables are roasting, strain the marinade, reserving the liquid but discarding everything else except the beef. Combine the marinade with the beef stock, bring to a boil, and turn to a very low simmer. Cut off the top end of the two large onions leaving the root end on, then peel off the skin and just barely shave the root end off. Cut each onion lengthwise in half and then each half into thirds, making 12 wedges that hold together by the root end. Dry the beef pieces with paper towels.
Remove the roasting pan and baking sheet from the oven and lower the heat to 325 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon, remove the browned beef scraps and bacon pieces to a bowl that you’ve lined with the piece of cheesecloth. Carefully pour the fat from the roasting pan into the Dutch oven — you should have about 6 tablespoons (use a little oil if you need it). Add the chopped onion and the pieces of 2 carrots to the beef scraps in the bowl, along with a couple of sprigs each of thyme and rosemary. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together to make a bundle.
The roasting pan should have some nice browned bits on the bottom. Put it over a burner and turn the heat to medium. Add about 1-1/2 cups of the simmering marinade and scrape the bottom of the roasting pan to deglaze it. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan back into the pot with the rest of the marinade.
Heat the fat in the Dutch and brown the meat on two sides of each piece using medium-high heat, doing just enough not to crowd the pan and thoroughly browning the beef on all sides. Remove the beef to a plate as it browns, and add more oil if necessary to completely brown all the meat. Put the onion wedges in the pan and brown them for a few minutes on each cut side, then remove them.
Pour off the fat from the Dutch oven. Add the wine mixture and gently scrape the bottom of the pan. Put the cheesecloth bundle in and make sure it’s completely submerged, then move it to one side of the pot. Add the beef and any juices on the plate, olives, roasted peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, the four remaining bay leaves, the orange zest, a couple of sprigs of thyme and rosemary, the remaining garlic cloves, a teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir gently to mix. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and put it in the oven for 3 hours. Stir it up gently halfway through.
Remove the pot from the oven. Carefully remove the cheesecloth bundle, and use a pair of tongs to squeeze all the liquid out of it that you can. Discard the bundle. Add the browned carrots, onions, and parsnips to the pot and heat gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for another 20 minutes. Skim off as much fat from the surface as you’d like to, and serve.