Braising is a method of cooking meat with a little liquid, as opposed to boiling. Stews and pot roasts are braised, which keeps them moist and tender. We recommend that you buy a piece of chuck and cut it into cubes. Chuck is fattier than other cuts and meat that is too lean will take very long to cook and may never get really tender. This is a delicious one-pot meal, served with good bread for dunking and a green salad. It is also a great opportunity to use a pretty Dutch oven for cooking and serving the stew at the table right from the pot.
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1-1/4 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium-size (about 5 ounces) yellow onion peeled and diced
1 rib celery with leaves sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 can (14 ounces) beef broth
2 cloves garlic peeled and pressed
1 teaspoon orange zest grated
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsley minced
10 small red potatoes unpeeled except for a strip around the middle
2 large carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, or 1/2 pound whole baby carrots
1 package (10 ounces) frozen whole baby onions thawed
In a measuring cup, mix flour with salt, pepper, and allspice. Place in a zippered plastic bag, add beef, seal shut, and shake to coat meat completely. Remove meat and reserve seasoned flour for thickening gravy. Heat oil in a 6-quart saucepan or flameproof casserole over medium heat. Brown meat on all sides and remove to a plate. Add onion and celery to pan and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place with meat.
Add wine to pot and deglaze by scraping any browned bits from the bottom. Add beef broth gradually; then return meat, onion, and celery to pan. Add garlic, orange zest, thyme, oregano, and 1/4 cup of the minced parsley. Cover and cook over medium to low heat until the meat begins to feel tender when pierced with a fork, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. After 1 hour add the potatoes, carrots, and baby onions to the stew. Continue cooking until the meat and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour longer. If gravy is too thin, mix reserved flour with a little water to make a paste and gradually stir into pan until thickened to your taste. Serve directly from the cooking pan or in a large serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining minced parsley.
If you can’t find small red potatoes, buy larger ones, and quarter them so they are close to the size of the carrots. You will need about 6 larger potatoes. Many markets now carry baby carrots in cellophane bags. They are great for this dish.
Using a large (1/2 gallon) zippered plastic bag is a very efficient way to dredge meat in the seasoned flour without making a mess in the kitchen or dirtying extra dishes. Keep the flour mixture that remains in case you need it to add at the end because your stew is too watery.