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Beef Stew with Zinfandel and Dried Porcini Sauce

Serves: Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 pounds well-marbled boneless beef chuck, excess fat trimmed and cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½cup peeled and chopped carrot
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 bottle Zinfandel
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 (3 by ½-inch) strips orange zest
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 leafy sprig thyme
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup (1 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (¼-inch-thick) slices lean slab or thick-cut bacon, cubed
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic, bruised with a knife
  • 1 cup drained canned Italian plum tomatoes
  • 12 large shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 12 large cremini mushrooms, halved through the caps
  • 1 leafy sprig Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Procedures:

  1. Place the meat in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan and sprinkle each piece generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.


  2. To make the marinade, heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, decrease the heat to medium-low, and sauté, stirring, for 6 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the Zinfandel, parsley, 2 of the orange zest strips, bay leaves, thyme sprig, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, without boiling, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.


  3. Place the beef in a large bowl and carefully add the cooled marinade. Arrange the beef so that it is totally covered by the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


  4. Set a colander over a bowl and drain the meat. Reserve the strained marinade. Save the orange zest strips, bay leaves, thyme sprig, and cinnamon stick, but discard the other chopped vegetables. Pat each piece of meat dry with paper towels and spread out on a rimmed sheet pan. Add another sprinkling of salt and pepper.


  5. Combine the porcini and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes, or until softened.


  6. While the mushrooms are soaking, heat a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, decrease the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until evenly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate. Discard almost all of the fat, leaving only a thin film in the pot.


  7. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and heat over medium-high heat until hot enough for a piece of meat to sizzle on contact. Decrease the heat to medium. Working in batches, add the meat to the hot pan and sear, turning with tongs as necessary, for 3 to 5 minutes, until well browned on all sides. As each batch is ready, transfer it to a plate. When all of the meat has been browned, spoon off the excess fat from the pan and discard.


  8. Strain the porcini through a fine strainer set over a small bowl and press on the mushrooms to expel the excess water. Coarsely chop the porcini. Save the porcini water.


  9. If necessary, rearrange the oven racks to accommodate the large pot. Preheat the oven to 325°F.


  10. Return the pot to medium heat and heat until hot. Add the onion wedges and garlic clove to the hot fat and sauté stirring, for 5 minutes, or until golden. Add the tomatoes and break them into chunks with the side of a spoon. Add the reserved strained marinade, the chopped porcini and porcini liquid, and the orange zest strips, bay leaves, thyme sprig, and cinnamon stick reserved from the marinade. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the browned meat and any juices that accumulated on the plate. Sprinkle the bacon on top. Cover and place in the lower half of the oven.


  11. Cook for 2½ hours, or until the meat is forktender. Halfway through the cooking time, remove from the oven and carefully lift the lid to check on the liquid in the pot. It should be simmering. If it is boiling, lower the oven temperature to 300°F. When the meat is forktender, remove the pot from the oven and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.


  12. If preparing the stew ahead, use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a storage bowl. Cover the meat and refrigerate until ready to reheat. Refrigerate the juices separately; the fat will solidify on the surface. Just before serving, place the cold meat in a shallow baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the meat in the oven for 30 minutes, or until hot. Lift off and discard the fat from the refrigerated juices. Pour the defatted juices into a saucepan and heat to boiling. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and keep warm until ready to serve. To finish the dish, proceed to step 15.


  13. If serving the stew soon after it is cooked, transfer the meat to a deep, heatproof serving dish, cover with foil, and keep warm in the turned-off oven. Set a strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the pan into the strainer. Remove the orange zest strips, bay leaves, thyme sprig, and cinnamon stick, and discard. Spoon the other solids in the strainer over the meat.


  14. Pour the strained juices into a fat separator and let stand for about 10 minutes, or until the fat rises to the surface. Carefully pour off the juices into a small saucepan. Or let the juices stand in the bowl until the fat rises to the surface, skim off and discard the fat with a spoon, and pour the defatted juices into a small saucepan. Keep the juices warm over low heat.


  15. Just before serving, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots, cut sides down, and sauté, turning with tongs as they brown, for 10 minutes, or until evenly browned. Push the shallots to one side of the skillet to continue cooking. Add the cremini mushrooms to the skillet and sauté, turning as necessary, for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are evenly browned and tender and the shallots are tender and browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


  16. Finely chop the parsley, thyme, and remaining orange zest strip together for a garnish.


  17. Spoon the shallots and mushrooms on top of the meat. Spoon the hot juices over the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with the garnish and serve at once.

Andrews McMeel

 
 
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