Happy November, everybody! Can you believe 2011 is almost over? I’m kind of freaking out over here. The good news is Halloween is over, fall is in full-swing, I can post soup and stew recipes and feel good about myself, and Thanksgiving (aka my favorite holiday) is on its way.

My friend told me about this stew and promised it was lick-the-bowl worthy. We already have a Beef Stew recipe that we love, and I still maintain its awesomeness, but that is a really great “toss it in the oven and forget about it” recipe, whereas this is a chilly, rainy, fall afternoon meal that you make with lots of love and fresh ingredients. It’s something you could serve to guests, and you can always freeze the leftovers and heat them up on a busy weeknight.

You’ll start with some chopped onion, carrot, and garlic. A little way down the road, you’ll also need some nice mushrooms (like baby portabella or cremini) and some cubed beef.

Chop the onions, some of the carrots, and the garlic and set it aside. Heat about a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a stock pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and saute it for about 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Remove it from the pan and set it aside.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. In a shallow dish, whisk together 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Toss the beef in the flour

and then transfer the beef to the pot. Cook the beef on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, browning it on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Now you’ll need the liquid ingredients–Italian tomatoes, beef broth (or stock or water and beef base), and red wine or grape juice plus 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

Pour the wine (or juice/vinegar mixture) into the pan and allow it to deglaze the pan (loosen up the cooked bits on the bottom  of the pan). Scrape it regularly for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about 2/3.

Return the meat and onion mixture to the pan. Add the undrained canned tomatoes, broth, and water. Now, seriously, this is my favorite part:

Aren’t all those fresh herbs gorgeous? We’ve got fresh basil, parsley, thyme, and oregano. Strip the thyme and oregano leaves from their stems and then chop up about 2 teaspoons of each. Add those to the stew mixture along with 1 bay leaf. We’ll use the basil and parsley a little bit later.

Add your mushrooms and some more chopped carrot to the stew. Bring it to a boil and then cover the stew and reduce the heat to a steady simmer for about 1 1/2-2 hours or until the beef is tender. Discard the bay leaf and then add some chopped parsley and basil and season with salt to taste. Serve it with crusty bread (and be sure to save some for the next day because it’s even yummier!)


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