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Slow Braised Beef Stew with Balsamic and Rosemary

Beef Stew has to be the ultimate cold weather, cozy comfort food. Call me crazy, but I find the whole process of making the stew to be therapeutic. Peeling and chopping the vegetables. Carefully browning the chunks of meat in small batches until they are a deeply caramelized. Slowly braising that tough, chewy cut of meat for hours- until it is so tender it melts like butta in your mouth. Not to mention the mouth-watering aroma wafting through the air, making you so hungry you can hardly stand it.

I have discovered that adding balsamic vinegar to the braising liquid is the secret to the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef and gives the stew a wonderful deep, rich flavour. This stew will need to cook for at least three hours- not the kind of meal you would want to make on a busy week night.

Slow Braised Beef Stew with Balsamic and Rosemary
serves: 6 to 8

2 lbs. chuck roast, excess fat removed, cut into 1 1/2 " chunks
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves, chopped
4 cups beef stock
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
a few whole sprigs of fresh thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves
salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes, quartered
any root vegetable would be a good addition- parsnip, rutabaga, celery root etc.
1 to 2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with a little cold water

Pat meat dry with paper towel. Season well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cook in batches, in a large heavy bottom sauce pan sprayed with cooking spray, until caramelized on all sides. Set aside. De glaze the pan with a small amount of beef stock, stirring to remove all the browned bits off the bottom of pan. Add onions to pan and cook until golden brown. Add garlic, beef stock, browned beef, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, balsamic vinegar, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until meat is tender - about 2 hours. Add remaining vegetables to pot. Cook until vegetables are tender - approx. 45 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Bring the stew to a gentle boil over medium heat. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until it thickens, just a couple of minutes. Season to taste. I like to stir in another tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar right before serving.

Tags: Main, Beef, Stew

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