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 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.
This 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 beef 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 with porcini. 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
Beef Stew with Porcini
Insanely flavorful beef stew that begs to be eaten in front of a fire while wearing a giant sweater and fuzzy socks.
- 2 1/2 lbs stew meat chopped into 2" cubes
- 3 oz smoked pork jowl or thick cut bacon cut into 1/4" dice
- 1 C flour
- 1 lb carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- 3 ribs celery, 1/2" dice
- 1 large sweet yellow onion 1/2" dice
- 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 T tomato paste
- 2 T worcestershire sauce
- 6 thyme springs and 1 large rosemary sprig, tied together with kitchen twine
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 C red wine (plus splash for deglazing)
- 2 C low sodium beef broth
- 3 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted (reserve liquid)
- 1 C frozen peas
- 1 C frozen pearl onions
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees
- Place porcinis in a bowl of lukewarm water to reconstitute for 30 minutes
- Sprinkle stew meat generously with salt and pepper and let sit for about 20 minutes
- While you wait, prep your veggies and cook your pork jowl
- Heat a little olive oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat
- Add the smoked pork jowl and cook until it has rendered most of its fat and the pieces are crispy. Remove the pork jowl, pour off most of the fat. Just leave enough to coat the bottom of your pot.
- Place flour in a gallon size zip lock bag along with the beef and shake until all the beef is coated in flour.
- Working in batches, brown your meat on all sides. Add a little olive oil if your pot gets too dry. Don't worry about the brown bits on the bottom. These are going to give your stew a crazy depth of flavor. If you are worried it will scorch, reduce the heat and add a little oil.
- Once all the meat is browned, remove and set aside.
- Add a splash of the wine and deglaze your pot, scraping up all those delightful browned bits.
- Add onion, celery and carrot and cook about 10 minutes until veggies start to get soft
- Add shallot and garlic cook 3 minutes more
- Add tomato paste and Worcestershire cook another 3 minutes
- Remove the reconstituted mushrooms from the bowl and set aside- add the reserved liquid to the pot
- Add the wine, beef broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.
- Return browned beef to the pot
- Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer
- Cover and place in 275 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender
- After 2 hours, add peas, onions and porcini mushrooms.
- Remove the thyme/rosemary bundle and the bay leaves.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste
- Serve with toasty hot bread and Enjoy!
- 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.