"Away in a meadow all covered with snow
The little old groundhog looks for his shadow
The clouds in the sky determine our fate
If winter will leave us all early or late."
- Don Halley
And more than any year I am pretty sure we are all praying for early...and I heard that was the prediction, so we will see. As Al Roker just said, that animal is no meteorologist...
In honor of Groundhog Day, a lovely meat stew. I guess you could use groundhog, but I am thinking it would be a little gamey...I will stick to beef, thanks. Have any of you actually ever seen a groundhog? And how did they get the honor? Why not a woodchuck, or a badger? Or perhaps a gray squirrel? Maybe I should do some Groundhog Day reading....and isn't it amazing that if I really wanted to do that, I could, with just a few strokes of my keyboard? But I digress...
From my nearly endless library of Ina Garten cookbooks: Parker's Stew (Please note, you need to start this at least one day before you want to eat it.) This one is from the book on the left. Just another wonderful addition to the Barefoot Contessa collection!
Cook time: 2 hours, 20 minutes 6 servings
2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine ( I used a just okay bottle, couldn't bear to use the good stuff...)
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
6 oz. bacon, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 (14 1/2-ounce can) beef stock
1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Brown the bacon in a large (12") saute pan for 5-7 minutes, over med-low heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a Dutch oven. Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. In the same saute pan, brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.
If needed, heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.
I made this Tuesday night, after marinating the meat starting Monday night. I realized in reading the recipe I copied over here from the Food Network site, that it was a little different than the one in the book. So I have revised it to reflect the one in the book. The one on the site did not include bacon but added mushrooms, and it used chicken broth rather than beef broth, and used a bit less garlic.
This was a fairly labor intensive meal, you should have seen the mess I made when I was flouring and browning the beef cubes! But then, I am a pretty messy cook to start with...
It was very good, and had lots of flavor. I would use a better bottle of wine next time, as the flavor really does come through since the meat marinates for quite a while. I would use less pepper in the last addition, it seemed to be a bit too much. It was a wonderfully comforting meal for a cold and windy night, I whipped up some biscuits to go along with it.
I have a lot of stew recipes, and this one by far takes the most time, so I am not sure how often it will get made. But it made a big batch, and we will have yummy leftovers for the rest of the week!