Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Braised Beef & Mushroom Stew with Cipollini Onions

This hearty and delicious recipe for Braised Beef & Mushroom Stew was inspired by my friend Angela who had been visiting from Germany a few years ago, and made this dish with flavourful dried forest mushrooms she had brought from home. I seem to recall that she served this stew with German dumplings, but egg noodles or spätzle would be just as traditional. Not having access to Angela's fabulous forest fungi, I now make her Beef Stew with crimini mushrooms, cipollini onions and small roasted new potatoes. Braised with good quality stewing beef, red wine, chopped vegetables, fresh herbs and chicken stock for 2-3 hours, this thick and soul satisfying stew is the perfect antidote for any chilly evening, whether you're in Düsseldorf or downtown Toronto.

A tablespoon of butter and olive oil are warmed over medium heat

Two pieces of chopped bacon are added

The bacon is cooked until crispy

Chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic are added with worcestershire sauce, fresh thyme and bay leaves

2 pounds of stewing beef

The beef is cut up into smaller 2-3-inch pieces 

Patted dry with paper towel, the beef is then dredged in white flour before being browned in batches with the vegetables

Half a cup of red wine is added to the browned beef, and stirred well to remove and dissolve the fond, or browned food residue, from the bottom of the pan to help make the sauce

Chicken stock is added and brought to a boil, then partially covered and allowed to simmer for 1 hour

Meanwhile, the cipollini onions are blanched briefly in boiling water then trimmed and peeled

After and hour of cooking, the onions are added to the stew which has become thicker and darker. The pot is partially covered again and allied to simmer for another hour

Crimini mushrooms are sautéed in a little butter until soft and aromatic

Once the mushrooms are cooked, they are set aside until being added to the stew

Now after 2 hours of cooking, the stew has become rich, dark and flavourful, at which point the mushrooms are now added and allowed to cook for another 30 minutes

The stew can be served over noodles or with sautéed new potatoes

Golden brown and crispy, the new potatoes are ready to be added to the stew

The potatoes are combined with the stew and garnished with chopped fresh parsley

Braised Beef & Mushroom Stew with Cipollini Onions & Roast Potatoes
Serves 6

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thick coins
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
5 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 lb stewing beef
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cipollini onions, blanched and peeled
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned and halved or left whole
1 lb baby new potatoes, washed and halved but not peeled
2 tbsp olive oil + 3 tbsp butter
1 cup sour cream, not low fat
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf italian parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large cooking pot over medium heat, melt butter and oil. Add bacon pieces and cook, stirring often until bacon starts to brown. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, worcestershire sauce, herbs and spices, and cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Pat beef cubes dry with a paper towel, then dredge in flour until cubes are evenly coated. Increase the heat under the cooking pot to medium-high and cook beef, adding a few pieces at a time, letting pieces brown before adding new ones. When all the beef cubes have browned, add wine to pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring and scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, partially cover pot, and let simmer for 1 hour. Stir in the cipollini onions, and continue to cook on low heat, partially covered for another hour. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in 3 tablespoons of butter until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. After the hour, remove the pot lid and add the mushrooms; simmer for 30 minutes. Beef should be very tender. 

Put the halved new potatoes on to steam for 13-15 minutes, then remove from the heat but leave covered in the steamer. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan over medium-high and sauté the steamed potatoes for 3 minutes each side until golden brown, then add to the stew.

Just before serving, remove the stew from the heat, take out the bay leaves and woody remains of the fresh thyme, stir in the sour cream and parsley, then return the pot to the heat and gently rewarm, not allowing it to boil. To serve, ladle the stew into a large bowl and extra parsley.