I know that I am not going to get any sympathy from northern blog readers, but it’s been darn right cold in San Diego. It’s actually even been raining quite a bit. But to be perfectly honest, I kind of like it. There is something kind of nice about staying in to avoid the cold, wet weather and making the inside of my house warm and comforting. It also gives me a great excuse to break out one of my favorite cookbooks – The Ski House Cookbook. Yeah I know, 50 degrees outside (it feels colder with the ocean breeze!) isn’t exactly snow ski weather, but it’s as close as I’ll get in San Diego!
This beef stew is a recipe that I have come back to every year since my aunt gave me this cookbook. One thing that sets it apart is the cooking of the vegetables and stew separately but at the same time. This helps to avoid mushy vegetables or having to keep an eye on the clock to add the vegetables at just the right time to cook them without overcooking them. You’re going to want a fork AND a spoon for this stew so you don’t miss any of the chunky vegetables/meat or delicious gravy.
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt & fresh ground pepper
4 lbs beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, diced into 1-inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour*
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 (16-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 lbs red or gold potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
3-4 large carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dry)
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dry)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
*All-purpose is also OK, I just like the nuttiness the whole wheat adds.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Adjust racks to make room for a large dutch oven or covered pot.
In a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Add the beef in 3-4 batches (avoid crowding the pot) cooking each batch for 5-8 minutes, or until meat is dark golden brown . After each batch, place the browned beef on a plate.
After the last batch has been removed, add the onions to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the edges of the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, flour, and soy sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the broth, using a wooden spatula to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom/sides of the pot.
Return the beef to the pot and add the bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and place in the oven. Set a timer for 6 hours.
Once the beef is in the oven, add the chopped vegetables to baking dish with a lid. Toss with olive oil, thyme, and rosemary. Put the lid on the baking dish and place in the oven.
After six hours, remove the pot and dish from the oven. Discard the bay leaves and stir peas into the stew. Divide the vegetables among bowls and ladle the stew over the vegetables. *Serve hot with fresh biscuits.
*I actually increased the heat to 400 when there was 15 minutes of roasting left. Then I removed the pot and dish and set aside for 15-20 minutes while I baked my biscuits. The meat and vegetables stayed plenty hot during that time.
Very slightly adapted from The Ski House Cookbook