Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beef Stew with Wine & Root Vegetables

friday stew
Perfect for cozy Sunday suppers with family and friends, this stew can also be made the day before you’re going to serve it, giving you more time to relax. It’s a classic beef stew that will leave you with a content feeling and a smile on your face. After a long workweek, a good stew is a soul-satisfying meal. Serve it with some fluffy mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles. Comfort in a bowl. This one has a mellow sweetness from the root vegetables and a fresh finish from the parsley and thyme. The sauce is deeply favored and glossy. The beef is tender. There are plenty of healthy vegetables in it. It’s a keeper in my home.
close up stew

Beef Stew With Root Wine & Root Vegetables Recipe 

  (Adapted from Ree Drumond’s Beef Stew with Root Vegetables)

Serves 6
Some Notes: 
Make sure you cut the vegetables thin or small so they cook properly. They’re added toward the end of cooking, so it’s important that they’re not too large or else they’ll be underdone.
To thicken the stew, I use potato starch mixed with water. It’s my go-to, hassle-free thickener for soups, gravies and stews.  You can find it online or at the supermarket. Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I find in my market. Once the stew is done cooking, mix one tablespoon of potato starch with one tablespoon of cold water. Viola, instant thick gravy and no fussing with a roux. My readers tell me they just add a potato to the stew to thicken it a bit.
I use a couple of good splashes of dry vermouth in this recipe. Vermouth is a nice substitute for wine. It’s fortified with herbs and spices, making it a good choice for savory dishes.  I learned this from Julia Child. It’s easy to keep on hand. It’s economical, as there’s no need to open a full bottle of wine for a single recipe. I store it in the fridge. I reach for it often to deglaze a pan or to use in stews and gravies.
The stew takes about two and a half to three hours to cook on a low simmer. The longer it cooks, the more tender the meat will be. But there’s minimal prep work, so it’s one of those fix it and forget it recipes. Gently bubbling away, it’ll fill your home with the intoxicating aromas that only beef stew with wine can produce.


  • 2 pounds of stew beef. I used cubed, humanely raised, stew beef.
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced on a microplane zester or pressed in a garlic press.
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced or sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 of a medium rutabaga, diced into small pieces
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • A couple of good splashes of dry or extra dry vermouth (see notes)
  • 4 cups of low sodium beef broth or more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons o f sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • A couple of good pinches of dried thyme
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Olive oil and butter for cooking
  • To Thicken the Stew: Mix one tablespoon of potato starch with one tablespoon of cold water (see notes)
  • Serving Options: minced flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme, mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles, crusty bread

Add some butter and oil to a dutch oven or pot and saute the onions, sprinkling some salt and pepper on them as they cook. Once the onions have softened, remove them and set them aside. Add a little more butter and oil to the pot and brown the beef on all sides. Add some salt and pepper to the beef. Brown the beef in batches, if you have to, so you don’t crowd the pot. Too much beef in the pot at one time will steam rather than brown the beef. You want nicely browned beef and some caramelization on the bottom of the pot. This gives lots of flavor. Once the beef is browned, stir in the reserved onions, garlic, vermouth, beef broth, tomato paste, dried thyme, paprika and sugar. Bring to a boil and adjust the salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and cook the stew for about one and a half hours. The stew should be very gently bubbling away on a low flame. Check from time to time and stir. Add more beef broth if needed. Keep cooking until the beef is tender. 
Once the beef is tender, after about one and a half hours, add the rutabaga and carrots. Continue cooking on a gentle boil until the vegetables are tender. This should take about thirty minutes or so. Once the vegetables are tender, mix one tablespoon of potato starch with one tablespoon of cold water. Stir this mixture into the stew to thicken the sauce. Continue cooking for five minutes or so.  Serve the stew with minced flat leaf parsley and freshly minced thyme. Mashed potatoes, crusty bread or buttered noodles are great sidekicks.

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