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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Italian Beef Stew

I couldn't believe that I had never posted a beef stew recipe here on the site until I decided to make it last week. It's one of those recipes I don't make very often, maybe 1-2 times per year, but is a wonderful one-pot meal that my family loves, especially in the winter. I also prefer to make my stew on top of the stove, so I have to plan on being home for several hours when I decide to prepare it, but you can also make this in a slow cooker if you prefer cooking it that way. 

When making a stew, you want to choose a tougher cut of beef so that your meat doesn't fall apart during the long cooking process. I look for what happens to be on sale that particular week. Most of the time, it actually works out to be less expensive if you purchase a bottom round (like I did here) and cut it down yourself, then buying the prepackaged beef cubes. Also be careful not to cut the pieces too small or they will simply fall apart and turn your stew to mush. You want to be able to see whole pieces and by cooking this low and slow for several hours, the meat just melts in your mouth. I like to add potatoes to my stew and eat this 'as is'; however, you can also omit the potatoes and serve this over egg noodles or rice if that's your preference. 

 Italian Beef Stew
4 lbs. Bottom Round Beef, trimmed and cut into 2" cubes
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 Red Onion, chopped
3 Celery Stalks, rinsed and chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, chopped
2 c. Carrots, sliced
1/2 c. Red Wine (I used a Super Tuscan)
32 oz. Fat Free-Low Sodium Beef Broth (I used College Inn)
2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
3 Large Red Potatoes, skins washed and cut into 2" cubes
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large stockpot. 
2. Add in the garlic, onion, celery, tomatoes, and carrots and saute until they start to soften. Remove from the pan and set aside. 
3. Next, dredge the meat in the flour, then add to the pot. Allow the meat to brown on all sides; then remove the meat and set aside. (You may have to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding). 
4. Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan; then add in the beef broth, rosemary and bay leaf. 
5. Add back in the vegetables and meat; mix well. 
6. Bring to a boil; then simmer for 2 hours over low heat. 
7. Add in the potatoes, cover pot and simmer for an additional 1/2 hour. Serves 8

*Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories 477, Carbs 7.6g, Fat 18.3g, Protein 64.3g, Fiber 1.4g
*Calculations based on ingredients entered into CalorieCount and may not be 100% accurate.

*It is very important to clean celery to avoid harmful bacteria to grow and come in contact with your food. Back in my commercial kitchen days, the food inspector would head directly to the tuna or chicken salads first to test for bacteria, as unproperly washed celery was the main culprit. 

Here is the proper way to clean celery and should be done before consuming. 

Step 1: Trim the top and bottom of the stalk and rinse under tap water. 
Step 2: Chop your celery. If you're using it in a stew like this, the pieces should be about 1/4" thick. If you're using celery with a dip, a good size would be approximately 3" or the size of your middle finger. 
Step 3. Boil a pot of water, add your celery to a small strainer and dip the celery into the water (this is called blanching) leaving it in there for approximately 2 minutes. 
Step 4. Remove the celery and then shock it in a bowl of cold water and ice (this is called an ice bath) to stop the heating process and return the celery to it's crunchy state. 


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