Rustic Beef Stew

You can prepare Rustic Beef Stew in two ways: If you have an aversion to onions, follow the directions as written. Sweet onions, such as Vidalias will just melt into the gravy, adding a subtle flavor but no texture. If you enjoy the presence of onions in your stew, remove them to a plate after they have been sauted and return them to the stew close to the end of cooking time. I prefer not to cook potatoes in the stew because they don’t freeze well. Instead, I like to prepare potatoes on the side.

4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
4 strips bacon, diced
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 pound Vidalia onions
3 tsp minced fresh garlic
8 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered or halved
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 quart beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
3 whole bay leaves
1 pound baby carrots
4 stalks celery, cut in 2 ” pieces
10 oz frozen peas, defrosted

1. Divide the chuck roast into sections following the natural fat lines, trim, and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the diced bacon. Cook the bacon until crisp, then remove to a paper towel lined plate, leaving the drippings in the pan.
3. Increase the heat to medium high. Brown the meat in batches, being sure not to over-crowd the pan, and remove to a large plate. Additional vegetable oil may be needed, but add it sparingly. You are trying to brown the meat for flavor and color, but not fry it.
4. While the meat is browning, preheat the oven to 300°. Peel the onions and cut them into wedges, stem to root, preserving some of the root to hold the wedges together. When all the meat has been removed from the pan, reduce the heat to medium and add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown around the edges and soften slightly. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms. Cook and stir until the mushrooms begin to soften.
5. Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pot along with the flour. Stir until all the flour has been absorbed, then cook 2 minutes longer.
6. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the broth, thyme and bay leaves, and let the gravy come to a simmer.
7. Cover the pot and remove to a 300° oven. Simmer for 1 hour, then add the carrots and celery. Simmer 1 hour longer, or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Add the peas and heat through.
8. Serve with mashed potatoes or in mashed potato bowls.

Servings: 8

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