Beef Stew Chez Moi
Serves 6 with leftovers
3 pounds beef stew meat or boneless chuck roast, cut into two-inch pieces
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 pieces
2 large onions
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)
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: 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 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.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, with a rack in the middle of the space. Dry the beef pieces with paper towels. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven (that also has a tight-fitting lid) and brown the meat all over 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, 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. Add the wine mixture and gently scrape the bottom of the pan, then add the beef and any juices on the plate, the carrots, 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. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and put it in the oven for 3 hours. Remove from the oven, let it sit for a half hour, then serve.