To A New Year of Good Eating!
Happy New Year, lovelies! I’m hoping you’ve all had a relaxing holiday full of good food, love from family and friends, and some new kitchen toys to play with. I know I have, what with our wedding, Christmas, and blissful New Year’s mini-honeymoon retreat in Palm Springs. There’s still so much I want to share with you, so I want to start the year off right by telling you about our Christmas dinner, E’s and my first as a married couple.
A bit sick after the wedding and just returned from New Orleans, our original plan for making a complicated lamb roast and its requisite side dishes fell by the wayside. Instead, I went back to a familiar, well-loved recipe for beef stew that is easy, beautiful, and just downright delicious. Well worth the wait, too– our late-night Christmas dinner was the best I’ve had in recent memory.
Now, I can’t claim this recipe as wholly my own– it’s heavily based on a Jacques Pepin recipe originally published in the December 2004 issue of Food and Wine. Here is my modified version- may it bring you years of gluttinous enjoyment, as it has me and the mister.
Flatiron Beef Stew with Belgian Pale Ale
2 tbs. butter (pref. unsalted)
2 tbs. olive oil
2 lbs flatiron steaks, cut into thick strips
1 large onion, thickly chopped
3 tbs flour
2 bottles Belgian pale ale, approx. 22-24 ounces. (recommendations: Leffe, Duvel, or even Mexico’s Bohemia has worked well in the past)
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
7 thyme sprigs
2 bunches petit carrots, cut into threes, tops discarded
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1. Season the meat with sea salt and ground pepper to taste. In large Dutch oven, melt one tbs. of butter in one tbs. of olive oil until sizzling; add half of the meat to the Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Turn meat over, brown the other side, and remove when browned. Repeat with remaining meat, adding more olive oil and butter as needed.
2. Add the onion to Dutch oven and cook until translucent. Sprinkle the flour over the onion, stir well and cook another minute or two. Add beer and bay leaves, stir well. Add chicken stock and thyme, and return beef and any accumulated juices to the pan. Make sure during this time that you scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the stew to a boil, then lower heat and simmer the stew, covered. Skim the stew ocassionally. Simmer approximately one hour or until the meat is tender.
3. Add carrots and simmer until nearly tender, approximately ten minutes. Add the peas and simmer an additional five to ten minutes. Check stew for taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve and enjoy!
I usually eat this beef stew paired with the same Belgian beer I’ve just cooked the dish with, but this year E and I popped open a 2000 Bourdeaux we’ve kept since our days in New York. We’d been saving it for an undetermined length of time, waiting for that ‘special moment’… what better than our first Christmas to savor it together?
Our bottle was the 2000 Chateau Larose-Trintaudon, that I picked up in Manhattan for about $11 in 2003. Now the bottle’s appreciated to about $30, so I’m glad I got it early. While not the most amazing Bourdeaux I’ve ever drank in my life, it was a good value for a great vintage year, and didn’t disappoint. The wine was well-balanced, opened up beautifully as it decanted, with a bit of spiced cherry flavors toward the end. A great pairing for an easy winter favorite.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along with me so far, and hope you’ll be with me as I blog in 2009!