Friends north of the Mason-Dixie are going to hurl rotten vegetables when I say this, but I feel a tiny bit jipped in the winter department. It has been day after day of warm weather and sparkling, glorious sunshine. Which is all well and good (and perfect for pouring the slab of our new house-so I AM NOT COMPLAINING). Universe, do me hear me NOT COMPLAINING!? No funny business, okay?
I just have so many favorite winter dishes I’ve been saving simply because they taste better when it’s cold outside. So, when I woke up to a 26 degree morning today, I immediately bundled up and headed out in search of the makings of an absolute wintertime favorite-an insanely flavorful beef stew made with porcini mushrooms.
Beef stew is probably the coziest meal you can serve your family. Tender, falling apart beef, braised for hours with stock, red wine, veggies and herbs. Coming together into bowls of comforting yumminess that practically demand to be enjoyed in front of a fire. While wearing a giant sweater and fuzzy socks.
We start with the usual cast of characters for beef stew. First, good quality beef-duh . You don’t want any big globs of fat, but don’t buy the ultra lean stuff either – it will never get tender. Look for something with some marbling. Then comes onion, carrot, celery and garlic-no surprises there. It’s the next few bits and bobs you are going to add that is going to take this stew from pretty darn good to AMAZING.
Our number one star ingredient (after the beef) is dried porcini mushrooms. I have an ongoing love affair with porcini. I can usually find them dried, but fresh ones are hard to come by in Texas. Alan once took a work-sponsored trip to San Francisco and upon arrival, discovered everyone else brought their wives. They all stayed in a super trendy hotel, enjoyed an all expenses paid wine tour of Sonoma, the works. In atonement, Alan carried home fresh porcini from the San Fran farmers market. He was forgiven. (sort of.) Porcini have an amazing, beefy flavor that kicks this stew up into the stratosphere. It’s really too bad laptops aren’t equipped with smell-o-vision yet. These smell exactly like beef jerky.
My recipe uses red wine (we have discussed my love of adding booze to food- you can sub extra beef stock if you must, but it will not be the same. At all.) I also add smoked pork jowl, shallot, tomato paste and a little worcestershire. The smoked pork jowl packs a huge flavor punch. It is what gives my chili recipe it’s smoky goodness. Just make sure you don’t accidentally bring home “salted pork jowl”. The packages are nearly identical and if you get it wrong, you will probably be feeding your stew to the dog. If you can’t find the smoked pork jowl, use a good quality, thick cut bacon. Oh, and don’t forget fresh herbs, which thanks to all this glorious Texas sunshine are still abundant in my garden.
As always, thank your for being here. We hope your family enjoys this stew as much as we do. So go light a fire, enjoy a cozy afternoon in your kitchen and treat your family to this comforting, soul-satisfying beef stew. And be sure to add your email in the box at the top right to have our new recipes delivered straight to your in-box. Happy Cooking – Alan & Amanda
- Salt and pepper your beef and let it hang out for about 20 minutes while you chop your veggies.
- When dusting with flour- my not-so-super-secret to minimizing the mess and saving a couple minutes is to put the flour in a gallon size Ziploc bag, add the meat and just shake until all the beef is coated. No mess.
- If you can plan your life in advance (I cannot), this is even better on day two.