Big-Ass Beef Stew

I had the hungries for a cast iron kettle full of beef stew yesterday and ran across the recipe claim for an “Ultimate” beef stew from celebrity chef Tyler Florence that calls for an entire bottle of red wine. As a cooking liquid, not for drinking. Sheesh. That just rubs me the wrong way. Seems like a hell of a profligate waste of wine.

Nonetheless, I carried a step-ladder from the pantry to the bar, climbed to the top step and hoisted down a dusty bottle of a wine whose label was perhaps more tasty than the contents.

Big Ass Syrah.

Yep. That’s it. I originally had three bottles. Two were still way up on that high shelf. It’s not bad, actually. Just a little light in its loafers, not the kind of flinty gravitas I prefer in a glass. So, if an entire bottle of red wine was going to be sacrificed on the altar of culinary experimentation in my kitchen, it was going to be this one.

Chef Florence’s recipe called for browning the beef – I cut up a chuck shoulder roast – and then braising it in the wine, broth, smashed garlic, thyme and bay leaves. After a couple of hours, I added carrots, new potatoes, pearl onions and, at the last minute, little green peas.

By the time Buck came in from the deer woods, (where he is filling pages of a legal pad with chapters of his book and not really noticing whether Bambi’s granddaddy shows up), Maggie had already swooned by the front door from the smells emanating from the kitchen, and Buck almost did when he came in.

This was the best beef stew either of us had ever eaten: tender, fragrant, silky. We ate a bowl of it with warm Cuban bread on the side and a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir. We’re having more of that Big Ass Beef Stew tonight.

6 thoughts on “Big-Ass Beef Stew

  1. Bad Ass Beef Stew is a much better name! By the way, I notice it’s still snowing here. Not cold enough already for you down there?

    “(F)linty gravitas” and “sacrificed on the altar of culinary experimentation”–nice, nice, nice. Good writing, Beth.


  2. Ooooh that looks good on this chilly Friday. I think Tyler Florence is channeling a Southern Grandma in that recipe. I always add about a bottle of red wine to beef stews. Richens up the gravy. Our last stew was buffalo, same method as yours, with the addition of fresh rosemary.


  3. I have a tight lid Italian stew recipe that calls for a bottle of red, a house one is all I will “sacrifice” , especially given that I don’t eat stew and love love red wine ;).

    The first batch of onions etc get pureed and a second batch cooked with the broken apart beef, tenderized and dark from the wine.


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