Go to the butcher for boneless chuck roast. If your butcher is nice he’ll cube it for you (1.5 inch). Chuck is the perfect cut for this stew and relatively cheap. Avoid shrink-wrap pre-cut stew beef if you can. Use shitty wine, but not too shitty. Buy something you would drink on an airplane.
You need about 4-5 hours to make this stew but most of the work is done in the first hour. Like most braised dishes, it just gets better after a night in the fridge, reheated over low heat.
SERVES 63-4 lbs. beef (chuck roast, cut into 1.5 inch cubes) 2-3 lbs. red potatoes (diced into bite-size cubes) 2 carrots (peeled and cut into bite size pieces) 3 large yellow onions (peeled and cut into a medium dice) 1 small bag frozen peas (or fresh if you’re lucky) 1 head garlic (cut in half) 2 quarts stock (beef, veal or chicken) vegetable oil 1/4 pound thick bacon (preferably slab or center cut, cut into 1/8 inch lardons) 1 bottle drinkable red wine 2 spigs of thyme 1 bay leaf
white vinegar sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt flat leaf parsley, finely chopped your favorite hot sauce
You will need a dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot. Heat up a chunk of butter until starting to bubble. Add the bacon and cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until crispy. Remove and save the bacon but keep the reserved fat.
Dry off the cubes of beef and season them well with salt and pepper. Heat up a few squirts of vegetable oil (if there isn’t enough rendered bacon fat) until hot. In small batches (the smaller the better if you have the time) brown the cubes of beef on all sides until they are a beautiful medium brown, adding a little more oil between rounds if necessary. Take your time with this, it’s worth it. Remove the beef and keep it in a bowl to collect juices.
Add the onions to the residual oil in the pan and cook, stirring until soft. Add a couple pinches of flour to coat the onions and mix until the flour starts to develop some color, (1 minute or so). Turn up the heat and add half a bottle of the wine, the thyme, the halved garlic head and a bay leaf. Cook on high until the wine has reduced by at least 2/3 and has a syrupy consistency.
Add the beef, beef juices, and the bacon to the pot. Add the potatoes and carrots and just enough stock to cover the stew. Cook at 350 for 2-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. When the beef is so tender that a fork can easily break it apart remove the stew from the oven. Uncover the pot and simmer over low-heat for a while to reduce the liquids and deepen the flavor. Add a handful of the frozen peas and take time to season the stew, keeping in mind that the more you reduce the stock (unless your stock is salt-free) the saltier the stew will become. Also, if the stew gets sweeter than you like, add a few spoonfulls of white vinegar. It adds a perfect balance.
Serve in a bowl with the fresh parsley, a dollop of sour cream and some hot sauce (if you want). Also I like to toast baguette slices topped with a sharp cheddar and serve on the side.
Any questions or comments are welcomed. Enjoy.