Beef Stew {Glorious October}

autumn-in-central-park

There is a conundrum I face once in a while.

In NYC there is so much to see, and I truly love seeing it all: Museums, gardens, art exhibits, new food shops, a stroll through the park, a walk down Bleecker St, a favorite restaurant, a spice store, a fun event for my daughter, and so much more.

And yet sometimes I want to make a dish that requires time. Take this beef stew recipe, for example: it requires several hours of one’s day. But when it’s October, New York City’s most glorious month, it’s hard to stay inside with all the beauty going on.

But last Saturday it rained all morning. Heavy, heavy rain. The kind that keeps you indoors unless you have an obligation. It was perfect time to hang out in my kitchen while watching my little one paint, draw and play with Legos.

So my six and half year old daughter and I put on our rain boots and braved the monsoon happening outside our windows. One of the things I love about urban living is being in walking distance to amenities. It took only a few minutes to walk to the butcher shop, the wine store and the market that sells vegetables. In ten minutes I had everything I needed to cook.

We arrived back home, soaked, but excited. “Will I like the stew, mama?” my daughter asked. “I think you will, darling. I think you will. (And she did.)

Later in the day, the rain stopped, the gray clouds turned white and puffy and the sun began to shine. The glorious October weather that stirs all your senses had returned. We’d eaten our stew, I cleaned up and we went back out to meet friends at the playground. It was the best of both worlds.

KITCHEN NOTES

Le Creuset
One of the best investments I ever made was the Le Creuset Dutch Oven in this color. It’s my go-to pot for stews of all kinds.

Bread, a must with stew
Serve your favorite bread with the stew. I love the rustic Tourte de Meule or Epi East Side bread from Maison Kayser.

A glass of wine with your beef stew?
Oh yes. You might enjoy this: i Bastioni Chianti Classico.

Music
I always have music playing while I cook and when we eat. We listened to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pounds of chuck beef (cut into cubes)
  • olive oil
  • 2 pieces of celery (cut into large chunks)
  • 5 large carrots (2 cut into large chunks (and 3 cut to be used separated))
  • 1 extra large white or yellow onion (quartered)
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of fig balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups of red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 large potatoes (cubed)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

In a large oven safe pot over medium to high heat, braise the beef on all sides in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until browned, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the beef from the pan. Add the celery, two of the cut carrots, onion and garlic. Cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, swirling it into the vegetables. Add the two vinegars plus the wine, broth and the water and stir. Add the fresh thyme and bay leaves. Add the braised beef into the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Cover and place in oven. Cook for about two hours. Remove from oven and strain the broth into a large bowl. Add the broth back to the pot along with the beef, the remaining carrots and the potatoes. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

Enjoy!

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