In all of my 38 years, I cannot remember ever making beef stew from scratch. Not once. I'm not sure why, maybe I thought it was too difficult or time-consuming or beef was too expensive or unhealthy or something. I was really in the mood for it this week, so I chose this recipe because it was an old-fashion beef stew. Nothing fancy. I adapted it a little, even substituting more beef broth for the red wine. I also only used 2 1/2 lbs of beef and 1 onion, so I added extra carrots and potatoes. It turned out delicious. Just like comfort food is supposed to taste.
3 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into 2" pieces (I just bought stew meat)
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 yellow onions, cut into 1" chunks
1/4 c unbleached flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 c unsalted beef broth, separated (see original recipe if using red wine)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-1" slices
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-1" slices
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
Heat a large heavy pot over medium-high heat; add canola oil. When it begins to smoke slightly, add beef and brown very well. Do in batches if necessary. Add the salt and pepper as the beef browns. Once browned, remove the beef with a slotted spoon; set aside.
Add onions to pot and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low and add flour, whisking to reduce lumps. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add 1 cup broth and deglaze pan, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of pan. The flour will start to thicken the broth as it comes to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then add remaining broth, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and beef. Bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and cook on very low for about 1 hour.
Add potatoes, carrots, and celery; simmer covered for another 30 minutes or until the meat and veggies are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.