Mmmmmm stew. Sometimes it's hard to beat a good stew or pot roast, especially when you live in the Arctic tundra such as I do, with snow and wind and rain freezing everything in sight. It makes you want comfort food; lots and lots of it. Corn breads, mashed potatoes, pot pies, that kind of thing. Oh, and stew.
Growing up, I never liked stew. Maybe it was because of the Dinty Moore-type quality my mother used to make, or all the mushy peas and carrots, or maybe the overly thick sauce. Whatever it was, it killed the stew mood for me, every time. Recently, however, I had to start questioning: how bad could stew be? I loved pot roast, for example, and that wasn't very different from stew, was it? Still, I wanted to find the best stew recipe out there, and so I scoured the internet until finally a good friend turned me on to her favorite stew recipe from epicurious.com (which I believe came from Bon Appetit). I'd actually seen it once or twice in my internet travels, but upon receiving her recommendation, I knew I had to try it.
Keep in mind I didn't have all the hoisin sauce the recipe called for, nor did I ultimately need the cornstarch. I also added Worcestershire sauce fairly liberally and used a Zinfandel, not a Cabernet. In addition I threw in some sun dried tomatoes (something I saw both Ina and Giada do), pearl onions (as opposed to sliced regular), and probably two or three cups of beef stock.
And so did I like it? Boy did I ever. The husband did too, calling it "refined and spectacular". Even the kid enjoyed it, but especially the easy mashed potatoes I whipped up to accompany the stew. Raves all around, and I do hope you'll try it. My grade: A-
Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
1/2 cup hoisin sauce*
2 bay leaves
1 pound slender carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley