Chunky Winter Love!
I know, I know...more soup, but it's COLD here and I want warm things that give me comfort. When I was a kid I thought the only way you could get stew was from a big red can. We all know the national brand I am speaking of. My mom made great stew later in my life and I learned how she did it and now I have honed my own skills at making a simple beef stew.
I took stew meat and tossed it with some all-purpose flour along with some salt and pepper. Then about 1/4 cup of Canola oil went into the stock pot and was heated up. The stew meat was then browned on all sides until it stuck to the bottom of the pot. I used a slotted spoon to get the meat out and put in a bowl on the side for later use. I cut up one onion and three stalks of celery and then the combination went into the left over oil from browning the beef. Once the onions and celery had wilted, I poured in about 1 cup of left over red wine from the refrigerator. The other night it was a bottle of Dunnemore Merlot, which I didn't drink. While the meat was browning I also took four potatoes and cut them up in chunks. I like to leave the skin on all my potatoes, no matter what kind they are. There are so many more benefits to leaving the skins on than to peel them off and trash all those vitamins. Leaving the skins on give an added benefit of color and texture. I chunked up three carrots. After the meat, onions and celery are all cooked, the Merlot was dumped in and once it started to come to a slight bubbly state, I took a wooden spoon and scraped the bottom of the pot. That brown stuff on the bottom adds so much flavor to the stew. The French call it fond. After everything reduced a bit, I dumped in three cups of beef broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 5 small bay leaves.
The rest is just time. I covered the pot with a lid and brought the stew up to a boil, then reduced the heat and walked away. I think the total cooking time was about 2 hours. I tested a piece of meat to be sure that it was fork tender and it was good to go!