Sunday, January 17, 2010

Magazine Monday - Best Beef Stew from Cook’s illustrated

For Christmas Gregg and Barb subscribed me to Cook's Illustrated, a detailed foodie magazine with recipes, but also includes product reviews, many tips and explanations of what works and what doesn't.

They prepare a dish over one hundred times until they arrive at the best version, trying different cooking temperatures, different types of cookware, experiment with the quantities of ingredients's America's Test Kitchen.

One of the first recipes we wanted to try was the beef stew.

Ready to grab your ingredients?

7 garlic cloves (recipe calls for 2), minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 anchovy fillets, finely minced (about 2 teaspoons)

Note: I did not have the anchovy fillets and frankly, it sounded like an ingredient that would make the stew...ummmm....too fishy. So I omitted it. But from what I now understand, anchovies would have increased the beef taste due to the natural compound inosinate. It boosts the flavor of the meat. Who knew? Next time we'll give it a whirl.

1 boneless chuck eye roast, trimmed into 1 ½ inch pieces. (I used stew meat.)

2 TB vegetable oil

1 large onion, cut into thick chunks (about 2 cups)

4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups red wine (see note below ingredients)

1 cup chicken broth

2 bay leaves

2 springs fresh thyme

4 ounces pork salt (I used thick cut bacon)

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch or so pieces

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Note about wine: The recipe suggests using a good quality, medium bodied wine, such as Cotes du Rhone or Pinot Noir. Well I definitely made a modification to this suggestion. I know the old rule – don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink…but it pains my penny-pinching heart to tip a good Cotes du Rhone into the pot. So I compromised and used a less expensive wine for the cooking and we enjoyed a Cotes du Rhone WITH the stew.

Slice up the beef......

Combine garlic and tomato paste in a bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 TB vegetable oil in large pot. Add beef and brown on all sides, do it in batches to prevent crowding and thus…unevenly browned pieces.

Reduce heat
to medium and return the first batch of browned meat to the pot. Add carrots and onions. Stir.

Stir so onion does not stick to the bottom or sides, loosening lovely bits of browned onion and bits of meat. This should take about 2 minutes.

Add garlic-tomato paste mixture and cook stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring again, until no dry flour remains.

Slowly add wine
, scraping the bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Allow wine to simmer until thickened and slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. (Or if you have my piece of shite stove be SURE you are constantly tending it as the burners do not know the meaning of low).

Stir in broth, bay leaves, thyme and bacon or salt pork. Stir, cover, transfer to a 300 degree oven and let that baby cook slowly for an hour and half.

Remove pot from oven
and pick out the bay leaves and salt pork if you used it. Stir in potatoes and onions. Cook 45 minutes more.

Using large spoon, skim off any fat from surface. The meat should be falling apart by now, giving little resistance to a fork. Toss in a handful of frozen peas, stir….place on the table to serve.

Doug said it was one of the best beef stews we have ever made. My boss liked it too.

We had a bit of cheese after the meal, served on my beautiful glass cheese board Mary Margaret sent me for Christmas.

I'm sending this over to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Monday.

Much thanks to Gregg, Barb and Mia for this great foodie gift. I am sure we will be experimenting with many of the recipes in the upcoming publications.

From Cook's Illustrated, January - February 2010 issue.


  1. looks delightful...

    I can tell you the anchovies would have been great as well...

    they simply are not fishy when they are an ingredient like that...even without the beef included...they simply enhance flavor in small amounts such as the amount in this dish...

    another way is to use anchovy paste in the's already all mashed up...

    yummy...I'm thinking about what I should do next with some anchovies...I always have a big stock of canned anchovies on my shelf!

    Cooks is a great magazine's kinda got the science of cooking in it...makes you think about what is actually happening to the food...


  2. Pierce, how I wish I saw this post before I started a beef stew on the stove-This one looks so good!! Served up with a great wine and a nice cheese at the end is a perfect ending.

    This was a great recipe. The anchovy paste is a really interesting addition. I have often been told that anchovy will flavor a broth or sauce very mildly w/o a real fishy taste. Did you find that to be true?

  3. I have been making Nigella's Beef Stew with Anchovies and Thyme. I wouldn't have believed it before, but I am totally hooked on the anchovies in the stew. There is a serious rich, meatiness to it.

  4. I buy the anchovy paste in a tube instead of anchovies. It keeps well and can be used for many things. I don't really like fish, but I don't mind a little anchovy here and there. You probably won't taste it.

    Your beef stew looks awesome! It almost looks creamy :D I'd love to try this one. I bet you're going to find a lot of great recipes in your Cooks Illustrated mag. I'm looking forward to some of them.

  5. Nice fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information.

  6. I am so glad to find the time again to spend time blogging!
    Feels great to be back - and your stew looks great for winter!

  7. What a great looking stew! I hated stew as a kid, but in the past few years I've developed a love for it...especially when made with wine or beer.

  8. The beef stew sounds excellent! I'm intrigued with the anchovies addition in the recipe and would like to try it next time I make my beef stew.

  9. Tina ... I saw this recipe! I'm glad to hear you recommend it as I was eyeing it myself. Looks delicoius!

  10. Thanks for the nice comments everyone!

    I did not know that about anchovies, enhancing the flavor and intensity of the beef and will surely try it next time.

    Laura, welcome back. I've been enjoying your photos.

  11. I had also heard that about anchovies and found it to be true--as an ingredient, they added a rich depth of flavor that you would never guess was anchovies.
    I like your cheese dish!

  12. I just watched the episode on PBS. It seems you left out 2 things: 1 & 1/2 cup of thawed pearl onions and 2 teaspoons of bloomed gelatin in 1/2 cup water to give a nice thick, glisten and round mouth feel.

  13. I love ATK and Cooks Illustrated. And that cheese board is beautiful -- nice gifts!

    The stew looks awesome.

  14. Just referred over to this post for the recipe from Novel Meals. That stew looks fabulous!


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