FAIL Weekend – Oven-Braised Beef Stew

On my third day off, I decided that I really ought not to give up entirely just yet, so I made this beef stew (although I did halve it, which results in half a bottle of wine in need of a good home). And finally, finally, something went right. I failed to fail. The stew was delicious, worked according to plan, and was enjoyed by both of us. So I won’t be hanging my head in hardcore shame and walking away from this blog right away. But the next weekend that is FAIL after FAIL… well, we’ll see.

My substitutions this time were minimal – I had, or was able to lay my hands on, nearly everything I needed. I did think I had 2 carrots left when I only had one, so I threw in a rib of celery instead of the second carrot. Obviously they don’t taste the same, but so what, is my feeling. I wish grocery stores here sold more produce individually. I wasn’t about to buy a whole bag of carrots just to use one.

Oven-Braised Beef Stew

Ingredients

for marinade
1 lb stew beef, cut into manageable chunks
1/2 a bottle red wine – I did like the original recipe’s author and picked up some 2-Buck Chuck, which is actually 3-buck Chuck out here…
1 medium-sized onion, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 large clove garlic (or 2 smaller ones), finely chopped

for stew
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp pepper, divided
2 tbsp flour, divided
olive oil for browning beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 slices bacon
1 carrot, sliced diagonally into 1/2″ coins
1 rib celery, sliced
~ 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1/4 lb green beans, ends snapped off and the bean broken in half
1 cup chicken broth

Method

for the marinade
Put all the marinade ingredients in a gallon-size ziploc bag and seal it, pressing out excess air.
Leave it in the fridge for 16 to 24 hours.

for the stew
Preheat the oven to 350.
Take the bag o’ marinade out of the fridge, and drain the beef, discarding the non-meat solids, but reserving the liquid marinade.
Throw the beef into another big ziploc bag with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 tbsp flour, shaking to coat evenly. Sure this seems wasteful of bags, but your marinade bag is all wet.
Now get out the pot you’re going to use and heat it up over medium heat. It needs to be big enough for a stew, obviously, but also oven-proof and having a lid, which must also be oven-proof. Handles are what I am thinking of here. A dutch oven or Le Creuset ought to do the trick.
So take this pot, heat it up, and when it is hot, pour in enough oil to coat the bottom.
Brown the beef in this oil, in batches so there’s no crowding, for about 8 minutes per batch, and remove it once it’s browned.
Into the now-empty pot, add the onion and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the rest of the flour and cook, stirring constantly, 4 – 5 minutes. Don’t get all excited if it sticks, you’re going to deglaze the pot anyway.
So now deglaze it with the marinade, and also add the thyme and bay leaf.
Add the beef back in and simmer while you cook the bacon.
Cook the bacon.
Break it up into 1/2″ chunks and stir it into the pot.
Cover the pot and throw it in the oven to braise for 2 hours.
At some point during the braise, chop your veggies.
When the braise is over, return the pot to the stovetop at a simmer, adding the chicken broth and veggies, and stirring.
Simmer until the vegetables are tender (or at least until the potatoes are; a little crunch in your green beans is kind of nice, I happen to think).

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