The stew was/is fabulous! It may even be the best beef stew I've ever had. The key ingredient? red wine. Sundried tomatoes added a little something yummy too. And so did the fresh rosemary. I wouldn't know about the carrots or peas, because I opted to leave those out so my family would actually eat it. The le Creuset performed beautifully! The chuck meat was marinated in an expensive bottle of red wine all night remember. Ouch! I hesitated before pouring in the last half... does it really need all that? I did include the entire bottle. I did think to pick up an extra though, so all is good.
We mopped up the sauce with these soft delicious dinner rolls featured on The Pioneer Woman's site. I'd show you a photo, but they were gone quicker than I could grab my camera. She has a beautiful one over there though. They are the easiest thing ever to make, and your family will think you slaved for hours making bread dough and then they'll thank you profusely for dedicating your day to the kitchen and their stomachs and sense of well being. I happened to have some French sea salt in the cupboard, which added just the right crunchy touch. But any coarse sea salt, or even regular table salt for that matter, will do in a pinch.
For dessert I whipped up these brownies. This is my go-to brownie recipe and the brownies that all other brownies are compared to by my dear sweet husband. He especially loves them slightly under baked so they're extra gooey in the center. Shhhh, don't tell him... it's a recipe I acquired from an old boyfriend.
Parker's Beef Stew
Ina Garten's (aka the Barefoot Contessa)
2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.
Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot. (Or if you have a picky family like mine, leave out the peas and carrots and serve a raw veggie on the side.)
Although I found this recipe online, its also included in Ina Garten's book "Back to Basics" although it's a slight variation that includes beef instead of chicken broth, and she thickens the sauce a bit at the end. Not sure it needs that.