Mention beef stew and immediately, a comforting image of soft chunks of meat with vegetables sitting in a bowl of rich, deeply flavored brown sauce comes to mind.
Contrary to popular belief, using cheap lean cuts of meat is not necessary ideal for making beef stews. When there is not enough fat marbling in the meat, they’ll just turn dry and leathery and will never ever become tender no matter how long you cook it. Trust me, I’ve seen my share of failed beef stew days. Nowadays, I generally stay away from packaged meat labelled as “beef for stewing” which has zero vein of fat.
That being said, there is no need to invest in high quality meat either to make this perfect pot of fall-apart beef stew. You’ll just want to look for beef chuck that is well-marbled with a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. I popped by my favorite butchery and found these amazing inexpensive beef rib fingers.
Since the little one in the family is not a fan of celery, I kept the choice of vegetables to simply carrots and potatoes. Feel free to throw in other kind of root vegetables, peas or even mushroom.
Oh, this is a perfect dish to make a day ahead as the flavor develops even further the longer it sits. In fact, it is highly recommend that you do.
500 g beef rib fingers / chuck (with good marbling) – I got mine from Mmmm
1 large onion – cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cloves garlic – peeled and smashed
2 carrots – peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 large potato – peeled and cut into bite sized cubes
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp plain flour
11/2 cup red wine
11/2 cup beef stock / chicken stock
11/2 cup water
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for cooking
Cut the beef into bite sized chunks (approx. 1½ inch) and make sure they are pat dry.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat up a large Dutch oven or casserole pot and add in 2 tbsp olive oil.
When the pot is hot, add in the beef and sear both sides until brown.
If necessary, do it in 3 batches. Do not overcrowd the pot or you’ll end up boiling the meat.
Remove and set aside.
Using the same pot, add in garlic, onion and saute for a few seconds.
Pour in balsamic vinegar and use a wooden spatula to stir and scrape the bottom of the pot. The brown bits should come off easily thanks to the balsamic vinegar.
Add in tomato paste and continue to stir until fragrant.
Add in the beef cubes, flour and toss well. Cook the flour for a min to remove the raw taste.
Pour in the red wine, beef stock, water and drop in the bay leaves.
Give it a stir and taste. Season with a pinch of salt, 1 tsp sugar and pepper.
Bring to boil and cover. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.
Add in cut carrot and potatoes and continue to cook for another 30 mins. By now, the beef should be fork tender.
Serve warm with crusty bread, warm rice or buttered noodles. I like to prepare a side of Crispy Fried Onion Strings, they go so well with this stew.
The flavor of the stew will further develop and tastes even better the next day.