Traditional Beef Stew with a Twist (serves 4)

Fall and Winter are stew times and each year I look forward to making my first stew (which I have been thinking about making since August!). There are a couple of key points to making a stew: the pieces of beef need to be tossed in seasoned cornstarch and seared on all sides at high heat; the beef broth should be of the best quality you can find. Searing the beef to a nice brown translates into a much better, deeper flavor for the stew and the cornstarch thickens the broth. If you skip this step, which I once did in my early days of stew making because I thought it a waste of time, you will end up with a disappointing taste and a watery gravy which even looks quite unappealing and takes a lot of salt and pepper or other condiments to overcome. While a stew doesn’t need much attention except for the odd stir, it should not be hurried. This recipe, which is my favorite beef stew, is a little different. As well as the usual carrots and onions, I add cannellini beans and the end result is a really hearty meal. Serve with mashed potatoes.

3 tbsp. olive oil seasoned each time with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 largish onion – chopped
2 large garlic cloves – grated
2 pounds of stewing beef
2 tbsp. cornflour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 good-size carrots – sliced quite thickly and cut in two
2 cups beef broth
1 can of cannellini beans – drained and rinsed

Pour 1 tbsp. of oil into a Dutch oven and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and slightly brown.
During this time place the meat in a mixing bowl, spoon over the cornflour, season and toss meat until it is well coated.
Add the garlic to the onion and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove onions and garlic from the pan and place aside.
Turn the heat up higher, pour 1 tbsp. of oil into the skillet and, again, when sizzling put half the meat in and sear on all sides. When nicely browned remove from the pan and place on a plate. Repeat with the other half of the meat.
Turn the heat down a bit and transfer the onions, carrots and beef to the Dutch oven. Pour over the broth. Bring to a boil, turn heat down again and simmer for 2 hours, adding the cannellini beans after one hour and stirring occasionally.


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