Happy New Year, all! If the frigid temperatures in the Northeast didn’t clue you in, it’s January. As is the case each year at this time, I have given some thought to what changes and improvements I’d like to make for the coming year. There are some that seem to be reoccurring (less shopping, more saving; less worrying, more meditating; less technology, more sleeping… ironic that I’m blogging about using less technology, right?)
But I find I’m more of a “decision” kind of a girl than a “resolution” one. Decisions require action; resolutions require desire. Action tends to yield far better results than willfully wishing for better days ahead.
The decisions I have made around food involve consuming less meat, a further dedication to seasonal eating, and a commitment to savoring the process as much as the result. Seems fitting that I’d start the New Year with a lighter version of one of my favorite winter comfort foods.
Any time I see the words “Secret Ingredient,” my curiosity is peaked. Sure, sometimes that secret ingredient is the ubiquitous use of espresso powder in brownies but often it is something I hadn’t thought of.
This stew’s secret ingredient is anchovy, which is melted into the base and lends a briny, buttery undertone to the dish. Since I’ve made a decision to use less meat, I’ve scaled back on the portion, and doubled the amount of mushrooms and carrots. Mushrooms add a meaty flavor and texture while keeping the stew light. With salty anchovies, rich tomato paste, bright tomatoes, and loads of vegetables, you wind up with a very flavorful stew that makes the most out of the caramelized beef and juices. This is a comforting supper for your family, but glistening and showered with fresh parsley, elegant enough to serve for a dinner party (bonus: it’s better made a day ahead of time).
SECRET INGREDIENT BEEF AND VEGETABLE STEW
Adapted from Food 52
3- 4lbs. beef stewing meat, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/3 cup mixed olive and canola oil
2 leeks, washed well and cut thinly
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, diced
5 celery ribs, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, quarted
¼ cup tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth
1 cup canned whole tomatoes with juices
3 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoons dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides. Brown the meat in batches in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven over high heat, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a plate.
Lower the heat and add all the vegetables. Cook for 5-10 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and anchovies and cook to melt the anchovies and distribute.
Add the beef back in, with its juices. Add the wine, vinegar, and tomatoes with juice (breaking them up against the side of the pot as you go) and bring to a boil. Add the stock to cover (you may need a bit more than 3 cups). Put in the salt, bay leaf, thyme, bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
When cool, skim off much of the fat from the top. Reheat over low heat, letting the stew simmer 30-45 minutes before serving.
Mix in half of the parsley and garnish with the rest