This is one of my go to comfort food dinners, but it’s also special enough for entertaining. While it involves a bit of work at the beginning and the end, the long slow cooking means that it’s pretty hands off for a good portion of the prep time. If you prefer you can even make this stew the day before, cool it quickly and refrigerate if for a day or so. Reheat gently, stirring often, before serving. This allows the flavours to meld together beautifully and it really does taste even better.
Some tips for using wine in cooking – always choose a wine that is delicious enough to drink by the glass with the meal. Good wine doesn’t have to be expensive, but very, very cheap wine seldom tastes good. Please, please never, ever use anything labelled “cooking wine”. A nice mid range bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux would be delicious in this dish, but I’ve also used mid range blends or Pinot Noir. Do taste a small sip of the wine before you put it in the stew just to make sure the bottle is in good condition.
I keep the celery stick I call for in the recipe whole instead of chopping it. Celery adds a wonderful flavour to stews, but my husband loathes the texture, so this means I can remove the offending vegetable before serving and he never even knows it was there (sshhhh!!). If your family enjoys celery, it’s nice to actually chop it into the dish.
You can serve Beef in Red Wine with mashed or roast potatoes (I love to roast baby new potatoes to go alongside this dish) but you can also serve it with any kind of rice or couscous. If I’m serving my Beef in Red Wine to company I often choose the latter option as couscous is so quick and easy to prepare at the last minute. Add some steamed green beans (tossed with butter and toasted almonds if you want to make things really special), a glass of the red wine you used to make the stew and you are good to go!
Beef in Red Wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I generally use mild olive oil)
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped or left whole
1 pound of beef chuck, stewing or braising steak, cut into chunks roughly an inch square
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups mushrooms, cut in quarters or sliced depending on their size
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut in pieces (I like batons, but chunks are fine too.)
1 bay leaf
½ cup good red wine
1 cup of beef stock
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or dried flat leaf parsley to garnish
You need a large casserole with a lid that goes from stove top to oven for this, or failing that a large frying pan and a large casserole, both with lids. Preheat the oven to 325℉ or 160℃ (150℃ for fan ovens).
In the frying pan or casserole on the stove top, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and chopped celery over medium heat until it begins to become translucent, but try not to let it brown. (If you are keeping the celery stick whole, hang on, we’ll add it in a minute.) Add the chunks of meat, and brown over medium heat, turning often.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat and onions, stirring lightly to coat. Stir in the beef stock and then the red wine. If you are using a frying pan, transfer the mixture carefully to the casserole now. Add the carrots, mushrooms, bay leaf, oregano and thyme. If you are leaving your celery stick whole you can add it at this point. Place the casserole in the oven and cook for an hour and a half, stirring every half hour or so.
Remove the oven and remove the bay leaf and celery stick, if you left it whole.
Depending on the water content of your vegetables and the meat you have used, the sauce may need adjusting at this point. If the sauce is too thick you can add a bit more stock or red wine and stir through to loosen it. Should it be too runny, dissolve one tablespoon of corn flour in two tablespoons of water and stir it through the sauce. Either way, return the casserole to the oven and cook for about five to ten minutes just to heat everything through. Remove the casserole from the oven again, taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.