Beef stew was not my favorite dish when I was a child. I clearly remember not being very happy when it was stew night! I honestly can’t think of any other dish she made that I didn’t like except this. I’d pick around the bowl to find something I’d like; a potato, a carrot or two, a piece of beef to slip to my dog Buffy. Everyone else all seemed to really enjoy the stew, especially Buffy.
Years later after my mom passed, I’d prepare meals from her handwritten notes to bring back memories of her through the dishes she made. I quickly passed over the Italian beef stew recipe many times before I finally decided to make it. Surprise, surprise…I loved it! It certainly had nothing to do with my making it any better but more so my taste for food had grown from when I was young. And just as surprising to me, it’s a dish my son really likes.
It’s a bowl full of love, comforting, tender and warming. The amount of potatoes, carrots, garlic and celery can vary to your taste; I’ve added in peas as well at times and used white wine when I didn’t have an open bottle of red. I’m not sure why she wrote Italian Beef Stew; I’ve never compared it to other stew recipes but the ingredients don’t seem to be too “Italian” to me other than tomatoes!
Italian Beef Stew
2 lbs lean beef, cubed, tossed in flour to lightly coat
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parley, chopped
1 14 oz can plum or diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water or enough to cover meat
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Add in the beef and onions saute until slightly brown. Deglaze the pan with the wine, simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, garlic, chopped parsley and red pepper flakes and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Add in the potatoes, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add in enough water to cover the meat and simmer covered for 40 minutes, stirring occassionally. Uncover the stew and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the meat is tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.