Barefoot’s Beef Stew
I love Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Her recipes are simple and use fresh ingredients. Besides Joy of Cooking, Barefoot Contessa was my first introduction to the cookbook world. Barefoot made me feel welcome in the kitchen and that I could actually make food, even good food. Laid back and no frills, Barefoot’s show is always fun to watch and I love it when she talks about her husband, Jeffrey. For those of you that haven’t seen the show, Jeffrey works in the city during the week and comes home to Nantucket on the weekends. Jeffrey’s favorite meal is roast chicken, so she usually makes him roast chicken on Friday nights. Barefoot’s roast chicken became one of the first meals that David and I started making when entertaining and we agree with Jeffrey, that it is one of the best meals! Ina films the show in her home in the Hamptons and she’s always hosting awkward dinner parties and get togethers with her local friends in the Hamptons, such as the florist, the local butcher, etc. She usually has a theme to each episode, or just “Friday Night Dinner with Jeffrey.” Visualize Mr. Rogers meets Julia Child and the neighborhood is East Hampton.
Recently I made delicious, beef stew using a recipe from Barefoot Contessa’s back to basics cookbook. While the recipe is a bit labor intensive at the beginning, your work is complete way before the meal is ready. You can wash your dishes, and then relax while the stew cooks. It’s quite a filling stew so I just served it with warm, homemade cornbread. We had some people over for dinner and everyone got seconds; it’s that good. In the following recipe, I made a few changes to Ina’s recipe but for the most part, it’s true to its original form.
- 2 ½ pounds good-quality chuck beef, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 (750 ml) bottle good red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 bay leaves
- 7 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups flour (I used white rice flour)
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups chopped, yellow onions (about 2 onions)
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 ½ inch chunks
- 1 pound small potatoes, quartered
- 1 14.5 oz. can beef broth (I just found out that Progresso’s broths are GF)
- 1 large branch fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, smashed garlic cloves and bay leaves. Cover the bowl and marinate in fridge overnight. (It’s so worth doing this! It makes the meat really flavorful.)
Brown the bacon in a large sauté pan for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Transfer bacon to Dutch oven, using a slotted spoon.
To prepare the meat, put the flour in a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift beef out of marinade and discard bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. Dredge the beef cubes in flour mixture, shake off excess flour. Brown the meat in the same sauté pan you used for the bacon. You’ll need to do this in batches. Turn the meat to brown on all sides. Put finished meat into the DO. Repeat with next batch. (You might need to add a little olive oil to the pan if it starts to dry out.)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Lower the heat in the sauté pan to medium-low, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, adding more olive oil if needed. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for five more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add veggies to the Dutch oven. Add 2 ½ cups of wine marinade to the sauté pan. Cook over high heat to deglaze the pan. (This is how you get all of the delicious flavor from the beef and bacon bits left in the pan!) Stir and scrape up bits with wooden spoon as it cooks. Add beef stock, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.
Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the DO and bring it to a simmer on medium heat.
Cover the pot and put it in the oven for two hours, until meat and veggies are tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew starts to boil (not simmer), decrease heat to 275.
When the stew is done, discard the rosemary branch. Ladle one cup of juice into a bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of rice flour. Pour it back into stew, stir gently and simmer for 3 minutes, until thickened. (You don’t even have to do this step. Sometimes I add the flour, sometimes I don’t.)
Stir in frozen peas, season to taste. Enjoy!
I made this stew in the morning and just let it sit for the rest of the day, until serving it that night. I think stews and chilis get better over time, so just letting it sit and reheating later is great. It also gives you more flexibility as the chef! You can even make it a couple of days in advance.
Don’t feel like you have to follow this recipe exactly. Last time I made it, I added a couple of chopped tomatoes as well because I had them around the house. I’ve used red potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes. Thyme would also go well in this recipe. This beef stew also freezes well.
Let me know what you like to put in your beef stew or if you have a favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe!