Winter Beef Stew

Recipe by Nancy Johnson
Wine Commentary by Gary Twining

Winter Beef Stew

This is a satisfying stew, rich with flavor and good-for-you vegetables. Stews are never an exact science; add the vegetables of your choice, but be sure to adjust cooking times. Beef and potatoes should be cut into roughly the same-sized pieces. For the record, I use Hungarian sweet paprika for this dish. This recipe is what braising is all about – less tender cuts of meat braised in liquid until meltingly tender. Total cooking time for the stew is 2-1/2 hours.

1 onion, coursely chopped

2 lb beef stew, cut into cubes

2 TBS olive oil

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

3 T flour

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup red wine

1-1/2 cups beef stock or 1 can onion soup, plus 1 soup-can water

4 peeled and chopped russet potatoes

2 peeled and sliced carrots

2 ribs sliced celery

1 package frozen peas

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. In Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown onion and beef in olive oil. Sprinkle with soy. In small bowl, mix pepper, paprika and flour. Sprinkle over meat mixture. Add stock, bay leaf and wine. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil. Transfer to oven.

Bake, covered, 1 hour. Add vegetables and more stock or water, if needed. Bake, covered, 1 more hour. Stir in peas, cover and bake 30 minutes longer.  Remove bay leaf. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 4–6.

Gary: Remember the umami character of braising and look for round, supple reds or wines with more age to echo the richness and texture of the meat, such as mellow Merlots, Southern Rhône Grenache and Spanish Garnacha, Tempranillo and Valpolicella. The Crianza level Riojas are supple but the aged Reservas can be quite delectable. This entrée is a perfect foil for the southern French country wines such as those of Languedoc and Provence, and bottlings from the sunny south of Italy, such as Primitivo and Nero d’Avola.

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