August 14th, 2014
From Family Meals: 100 Easy Everyday Recipes by Michael Smith. Copyright © Michael Smith, 2014. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada Books Inc. Photography credits: Ryan Szulc.
Heat your largest, heaviest pot over medium-high heat while you gently dry the beef on a few paper towels. Splash a pool of oil into the pot, swirling and covering the bottom with a thin film. Using tongs, carefully add a single sizzling layer of beef without crowding the pan. This is your only shot at adding the rich, deep flavors that can only come from respectfully browned meat. Listen to the heat. A simmering pan means nothing. Sizzle is the sound of flavor. Too loud, though, and a sizzling pan becomes a smoking-burning pan. When the beef is deeply browned all over, transfer it to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the beef, 10 to 15 minutes in total. Pour off any excess oil, leaving behind any browned bits of goodness.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, wine, broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Return all the beef to the pot. Stirring frequently, bring to a furious full boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and very gently simmer for at least an hour, another if you can, stirring now and then, patiently tenderizing the meat, releasing the richness and building deep beefy flavor.
The stew is hearty and satisfying as is, so go ahead and serve and share right away. It does benefit from a dash of last-second flavor, though, so if you like, toss in-or top with-your chosen finishing flavors.