No, this is not some lame college reference to a really weird night my sophomore year. This is a recipe. Yes, I know this is not a food-blog. But this recipe is SO good, I had to share, and I’ve had requests that I share it, so here it is interwebs, the best damn beef stew recipe you will ever have. I highly recommend you double this recipe, because you will be sad when it is all gone. But if you double it you can freeze half in lunch-sized containers and have a bowl of awesome anytime you want. This recipe is an amalgamation of bunch of recipes/cooking techniques, so I’m calling in MINE. Yes, there are similar recipes out there, no they are not as good.
Drunken Beef Stew
- 1lb stew meat or chopped up chuck roast or other cheap cut of meat
- 1lb bacon
- cheap red wine
- flour for coating
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 onions chopped
- 2-4 cups beef stock
- variety of chopped veggies, see directions for more info
- Large soup pot that can go into an oven as well
The first thing you need to do is buy “stew meat” or buy a cheap beef roast and hack it into 2-3 inch pieces. Me, I’m lazy I buy the stew meat and it seems to be more tender than just buying a roast and hacking it up. We have done it both ways, and it turns out fine.
You will need 1lb of stew meat (remember I am giving you the recipe for a single batch, double everything I list to double it).
The NIGHT before you want stew, take your meat, put it in a large bowl with a lid, and dump about 1/2 of a bottle of CHEAP red wine on it. Don’t be all ‘oh I’ll get fancy wine, that will make it better.’ No, no it won’t, you will just waste good wine. I always buy one that cost less than $5, that’s how cheap I’m talking. Now, if the wine is “pink” in color, that is not red wine, Arbor Mist wine is NOT red wine, you do need to get REAL red wine, but other than that, any cheap Red will do. Pour the wine just enough to almost cover or barely cover the meat. Put it in your fridge overnight. Now you have about 1/2 a bottle of cheap red wine left over and nothing to do. This is called divine providence.
The next day, say afternoonish, take out your meat from the fridge. I like it to come close to room temperature before I start cooking. Now cook 1lb bacon. Yes, BACON, it does in fact make everything better. If you have a big dutch oven or a big soup pot that can also go in the oven, use it to cook your bacon in there, saves you a pan. If not, cook it however you need to. I always have to cook it in batches, but you can really just throw it all in there on low-medium and it will cook. We are not going for “pretty” here, just cooked. After your bacon is done remove from pan but leave all the drippings in the pan. Set your bacon to cool and when it is cool rough chop it into around 1-inch pieces. Again, no need to be pretty, it’s going back into the stew later.
Strain the meat out of the wine bath and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. I have found this step helps keep the flour coating (that we are going to do in the next step) on a little better. SAVE the wine, we will use it later. You want the meat to be moist, but not soggy. Salt and pepper the meat, then place a couple of cups of flour in a bowl with a lid.
*Now, lets take a little detour here and talk about flour coating. You’ll notice I did not have you add any spices or salt to the flour like almost every other recipe will tell you to do. This is because when you do that, you have great tasting flour coating, and meat without any seasoning. The flour prevents the seasoning from getting to the meat. Trust me on this. Also, I have made this recipe about a ba-jillion times and half the flour coating almost always comes off or breaks loose when cooking. So you lose any seasoning you added to the flour anyways. Just season your meat well and then dunk it in flour. Ok, rant ended.*
So, after salting and peppering the meat, toss it in flour to thinly coat. Thickly coating it just gets you clumps of flour and does nothing for flavor. I always do the flour coating and then place the meat in a wire mesh strainer and gently shake off any excess. Not necessary, you can just use tongs to take it out of the flour bath and shake off the excess.
Now that bacon grease? Cook your meat in that. Turn your burner back on, on about medium-low as bacon grease has a low smoke point. Found that out the hard way, trust me keep it on medium-low. You will need to cook in batches as you need room to turn the meat. Brown it on one side about 2-3 minutes, then flip and do the other side. You are not going for cooked through, just browned on two sides. If your bacon grease starts to diminish you can add a little olive oil to the pot to finish the last batch.
Once your meat is cooked, just keep it on a plate. If you have already chopped your bacon you can just dump it on top of that. Saves you a plate to wash. You’re welcome.
Now add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil to your pot and dump in 1-2 onions chopped up depending on how much onion you like. If you like garlic, add a couple chopped cloves as well. Also add a teaspoon of salt and pepper.
Now we’re in the home stretch. Add in whatever veggies you like at this point roughly chopped. Carrots (if you use baby carrots just toss them in whole), mushrooms, turnips, parsnips, beets, potatoes (I have had some issue with potatoes. They either turn to mush or have a really mealy texture. So I just cut them small, and that way they kinda just mush into the stew and thicken it. If you like big chunks though go for it. I’d recommend salting them separately first to help with flavor.)
You’ll notice I have not given any “amounts” for the veggies. Yes, this bothers me too. But it really is up to you. If you want, you can just add in your beef stock and wine marinade first, then your meat and bacon, and then add veggies up to the point that the stock and wine marinade just barely covers everything. Or you can be like me, and dump in a ton of veggies, add in your stock and wine, and then realize you need more stock, and send your husband to the store. Either way works, the second method is nice because sometimes he comes back with frozen jalapeno poppers, (my guilty pleasure), as well.
After (or before, see above) you add your veggies, dump in your meat and bacon. Pour in the left over wine from the meat and then add enough beef stock to just barely cover everything, about 2-4 cups depending on how many veggies you add. Bring everything up to simmering then put in your oven, covered, at 350 for an hour and then turn down to 300 for another 1-2 hours, or until everything is tender.
Eat and enjoy.