I was expecting a crowd just around dinner time the other night, so I thought about roasting a few chickens but decided I didn’t want to take a chance on timing and having them dry out before everyone got here, so I opted to make a big pot of Beef Stew. This is the perfect weather for it – although I’m extremely happy about how lucky we have been weather-wise so far this winter. I love to look at the snow but dread driving in it.
I wasn’t thrilled with the look of the so-called “stew meat” at the market, so in checking out my other beef options, I decided to go with two Top Round London Broils.
2 Top Round London Broils (+/- 3lb total)
½ c flour
1 t salt
1 t pepper
2 T dried oregano, divided
½ t crushed red pepper flakes
½ t garlic powder
3 T olive oil (may need more)
2 cans beef broth
1 c red wine (optional)
2 onions, diced
4-5 potatoes, cubed (I used russets)
Small bag of baby carrots
2 crowns broccoli
1 T tomato paste
You should probably start by chopping your veggies so they’re ready when you want them. You can certainly use full-sized carrots rather than the minis; just cut them into coins. We usually put peas in our Beef Stew, but I decided to go with broccoli that day. I cut the florets where they naturally separate, but there were a few big guys that required being split in half.
Now that your veggies are prepped, go ahead and trim off the fat and cube the meat into large bite-sized pieces. You want to account for some shrinkage while cooking.
Toss the flour, salt, pepper, 1T of the oregano, pepper flakes, and garlic powder in a plastic bag, then add the meat and (this part should go without saying – seal or hold the bag closed) shake to coat.
In a large pot over medium-high heat (shaking off any excess flour as you remove the meat from the bag), give each piece a quick sear in the olive oil. You will want to do this in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan, and may need to add more oil between batches. Just transfer the seared pieces to a bowl as you go along. I like to use tongs for this sort of thing, or even chopsticks on occasion, so I'm not poking a fork into the meat and letting the juices run out.
Once all the meat has been seared, add the 1T butter to the pan, along with any of the flour mixture remaining in the bag. You can stir or whisk this into a roux to help with your gravy.
Add the meat back to the pan, along with any juices that may have run out, and cover with the beef broth. It’s not necessary to include the wine; you can use more broth if you like, but I happened to have had a bottle of Cabernet in the fridge, so I threw in a cup. Let that come just to a boil.
Because you can’t really overcook the onions, I add those now, so they have plenty of time to impart their flavor into the mix. Go ahead and stir those in, then pop a top on the pot, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, and let it go for between an hour to an hour and a half, until the meat is tender. Give it a stir every now and then, just to make sure nobody got stuck on the bottom.
Now that the meat is all happy, it’s time for the potatoes and carrots to jump in the pool. That's when I added the tomato paste and the second tablespoon of oregano, too. Even though tomato paste comes in small cans, it’s one of those things I usually don’t need the whole amount of, so I throw the excess in a little plastic bag and freeze it. That way, I can just carve off a chunk when I need it.
When you can poke a potato cube and meet with just slight resistance, go ahead and add the broccoli. You don’t want to add that too soon and have it turn to mush. I would have preferred it to be a little less done than in my final pics, but I wanted to make sure dinner was ready when everyone came in that night and was a little ahead of myself.
Don’t forget to have a nice fresh loaf of French or Italian bread at the ready to soak up all that gravy! ;)