This morning I got a pot of stew in the oven and the house smells so good. It would be great if I could bottle this scent! This is a great recipe for a day when you know you will be at home, it's blustery cold out and you want to knock the socks off your family with a savory meal. There are a couple of keys to a great stew, the first is that you dredge the meat in seasoned flour and brown it. The second is using a cast iron pan in a low-heat oven.
2# beef stew meat (you can cut up a chuck roast, steaks or other roast as well)1/2c flour
2T olive oil
4c beef broth (I use 4c water + 1T beef base)
1c red wine
1-14oz can stewed or diced tomatoes(we hate chunks of tomatoes so I whip in the mini chopper)
1tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1tsp garlic cloves, minced
fresh ground pepper
carrots, potatoes, onions and peas to preference, pealed & chopped in the same size pieces as the beef
Heat the pot well, over med heat so you don't burn the oil and butter. Cut up beef. Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a plastic zip bag. Put meat in bag and coat well with flour mix. Place 1T butter and olive oil in pan, brown half the meat and remove to plate. Do with other half of oil, butter and meat. Remove all the meat. Add water, beef base, wine, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and fresh ground pepper, bring to boil (make sure to mix well and scrape the beautiful bits of crusty meat, butter and flour off the bottom). Once it has boiled add meat and stick in 250 degree oven, the longer the better! A couple of hours before you are ready to serve the meal add the vegetables, I like to taste the juice at this point to see if it needs any salt. Potatoes always taste better if salt is added when they cook, not after. Cook an additional couple of hours. Cornbread and a salad or coleslaw is a great accompaniment for this. The stew is terribly hot when you take it out of the oven, so it can stand to sit while you bake your cornbread.