Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beef Stew with Currant Jelly & Cream

When I saw this recipe I was very skeptical. Beef stew with currant jelly? And cream in the sauce? But Cherrie, my friend, had just raved about this dish, said she and her husband both craved seconds, and leftovers. So finally, I got around to trying it. And yes indeed, it is very good.

Apparently it’s a Wolfgang Puck recipe. And if you’re not of the school that likes all those soft, soggy vegetables that usually accompany stew, then this version will float your boat. There are no carrots sticks or celery pieces, nor potato cubes either. There is, however, a mirapoix (that’s French for the mixture of finely minced onions, celery and carrots, pronounced meer-a-pwah) that’s part of the flavoring agents used in much of French cooking. And, it happens, that Trader Joe’s (at least in our area) is now selling a quart container of fresh mirapoix. That’s what I used for this, and it made the prep work on it so very easy. In this case, the beef stew meat is marinated in wine and herbs (overnight, preferably), then you quickly sear the beef and mirepoix in some oil to bring out that wonderful fond flavor (the brown stuff that sticks to the bottom of the pan). Then you add a bit of flour to help thicken the sauce, and add broth and the marinade before simmering for a couple of hours.

Since this didn’t have any veggies, to speak of, I should have added some mushrooms. I think they would have made a nice addition. And I served it on a bed of linguine. Probably not traditional, but was very good with the wine gravy. This recipe is a keeper.

Cook’s Notes: Allow the beef to marinate overnight if at all possible (I gave it about 7 hours). You can use any kind of red wine, although I wouldn’t use anything sweet, since the gravy is sweet enough with the addition of the currant jelly. Be sure to bring the stew JUST up to a simmer and let it bubble very slowly (below a simmer) for the rest of the cooking time (otherwise the meat will dry out). And next time I’ll be adding some small button mushrooms toward the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Beef Stew with Currant Jelly & Cream
Recipe By: Cherrie S's recipe adapted from Wolfgang Puck, via Our House cooking school in San Juan Capistrano.
Serving Size: 8
4 pounds beef chuck -- cubed 1-inch
6 ribs celery -- coarsely chopped
6 large carrot -- coarsely chopped
3 medium onion -- coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 whole bay leaves
1 tablespoon rosemary -- chopped
1 tablespoon thyme -- chopped
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 quart beef stock
2 cups button mushroom -- cleaned & trimmed [my addition]
6 tablespoons currant jelly -- red type
1/2 cup heavy cream salt and pepper -- to taste
1. THE NIGHT BEFORE: In a large bowl, toss together beef, celery, carrots, onions, wine, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.
2. THE NEXT DAY: Drain meat & vegetables and save marinade and set aside. In a large, enameled cast-iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering, add meat & vegetables in batches and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned on bottom, transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and meat/veggies. Return meat and veggies to pot, stir in flour and cook, stirring about 2 minutes. Add red wine vinegar and scrape up browned bits, add reserved marinade, tomato paste and simmer about 2 minutes. Add stock and red currant jelly, season stew and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally about 2 - 21/2 hours until meat is very tender.
3. Ten minutes before serving add the mushrooms. Just before serving, stir in heavy cream, season and simmer for just a minute to heat through.
Per Serving: 738 Calories; 48g Fat (61.7% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 152mg Cholesterol; 1327mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 6 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

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