Beef and White Bean Stew with Gremolata
Yield: makes about 6 big portions
800g or just over 1 1/2 lbs of beef stew meat
salt and pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbls tomato paste
1 tbls worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbls flour
1/2 cup of dark beer, red wine or port (it’s up to you – its all good)
2 cups chicken stock
1 big sprig rosemary
a couple sprigs thyme
1 large bay leaf
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped parsnips
6 small new potatoes in bite sized chunks
1 540ml can navy beans, drained
(secret ingredient that is not a must but it’s nice if you have some – 1 tsp
PC taste#5 umami paste they call it a flavour bomb and it just adds a
little something something. You can also use anchovy paste if you like)
1 clove garlic
1 big handful italian parsely
drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
pinch kosher salt
tiny squeeze of lemon juice
Chop the parsley as finely as possible using a microplane, grate in the zest of 1 lemon and the garlic clove as well. If you don’t have a microplane, you can just mince the lemon zest and garlic with a knife but it’s soooo much easy with a microplane so you might want to invest in one if you don’t have one – one of my favourite kitchen tools. Stir it all together with a pinch of salt, a small drizzle of olive oil and a week squeeze of lemon juice and set aside until serving time (store, covered, in the fridge).
Preheat oven to 300F.
Heat an oven safe pot over med high heat. Pour in a glug of olive oil, so it just coats the bottom.Brown the meat in batches so that you aren’t crowding the pan. If you try to jam too much meat in there, the meat ends up steaming instead of searing and you don’t want that. Salt and pepper each batch as you add it in. This is the hard part- DON’T TOUCH THE MEAT FOR A GOOD 4-5 MINUTES. I know you want to but just leave it. After a food 4 or 5 minutes, pry the meat up and stir it around for another 4 or 5 minutes to brown the rest of the meat as well. If it looks like the yummy stuff stuck on the bottom (the fond is what you call that and fond is french for “bottom” – now you can sound super savvy ) is going to start to burn, throw in a couple of tbls of water and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan and pour the water and the gooey fond goodness over the meat that you have removed to a bowl. Add a bit more oil and throw in the second batch of meat, salt and pepper generously and do the same thing until all the meat is browned and waiting off to the side in a big bowl.
Now, add another tbsp or two of olive oil, turn the heat down to med and cook the onions until very soft which should take about 7 or 8 minutes, stirring often. After 5 minutes, add the garlic. When the onions are nice and soft, add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and another pinch of salt and stir that around for a minute and then sprinkle the flour over the top. Stir it around until the flour makes a wet paste over the vegetables and pour in your beer/wine or port. Stir it so that you deglaze the pan and the liquid starts to thicken and you can’t see any lumps of flour at all. Add the meat and all the drippings in the bowl, the chicken stock, the rosemary, thyme and a bay leaf. Cover the pot and put that in the oven and set the time for one hour.
At the one hour point, remove the pot from the oven, add in the potato, parsnips, carrots and navy beans and check the seasonings and the liquid level. If it looks like it’s not going to be enough liquid, you can add another 1/4 cup of chicken stock or water, put the cover back on and put it back in the oven for another couple of hours. Keep checking the meat and the vegetables until they are perfectly tender. It could take anywhere from 2 to 4 hrs depending on the cut of stew beef, the size of the chunks etc. which is why I like to make it earlier in the afternoon and then just reheat it at dinner time so I don’t stress out.
Add a spoonful of gremolata to the top of each bowl.
You can serve it right away but we all know that stew just gets better in the days after you make it. It keeps in the fridge for up to four days and it will just keep getting better. You might have to add a slurp of stock or water when you reheat it.