Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beef Stew with Port and Porcini

So this was the next dinner I made for my family that's visiting.  It was a cold weekend and  I thought something like a stew cooked for a long time in the oven sounded like just the thing to make.  It was more laborious than I would ordinarily do (that is if I wasn't craving something or having guests:) but I wanted something nice for my parents.  It was a good stew.  Even the people who didn't like mushrooms were pleased with the dish.  I think for most people, this would be a special occasion kind of dish because of the time and the bit of work involved, but stew is not an "impressive" meal despite how tasty it might be, so this dish may fall in to a small niche for most, but don't et that dissuade you from trying it.  I served it with noodles but I would have preferred mashed potatoes to put it over.

3 pounds beef chuck roast, fat trimmed, meat cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 thyme sprigs, plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup pure olive oil
1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (1/2 cup)
1 cup ruby port
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large bowl, toss the beef chuck with the onions, garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, pure olive oil and 1 cup of the red wine; season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain the meat. Transfer the meat to a paper towel–lined plate and pat dry; reserve the onion mixture separately.

3. In a medium heatproof bowl, cover the dried porcini with the port. Microwave at high power for 1 minute, until the porcini are softened; let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini to a food processor. Add the tomato paste and half of the porcini soaking liquid and process until smooth. Reserve the remaining porcini soaking liquid.

4. In a large, heavy casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved onion mixture and the celery and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion-bacon mixture to a bowl.

5. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the casserole. Dust the meat with flour, shaking off any excess. Add half of the meat to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to the bowl with the onion-bacon mixture. Lower the heat to moderate and brown the remaining meat.

6. Return all of the meat and the onion mixture to the casserole and stir until sizzling. Add the porcini paste and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the carrots and sliced shiitake caps. Add the stock, the remaining red wine and the remaining porcini soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

7. Uncover the stew and cook over moderate heat until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley and 2 teaspoons of chopped thyme, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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