Yankee Cooking At Its Best
This New England Classic is easy to make, but does require a long braise. The active cooking time is probably an hour or less. It is even better the second day.
The first time I made this, the aroma filled my SoCal home and brought me straight back to my Massachusetts roots. This can be made in a dutch oven or a slow cooker; the method is the same.
- A two-to-three pound chuck roast, cut into two-inch chunks, gristle and fat mostly removed (no need to be terribly picky about this, it’s going to cook for a loooooong time)
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 tablespoons high smoke-point fat. Any of the following will suffice: Ghee, clarified butter, vegetable oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil
- Rough Mirepoix: 1 onion, sliced; 3 carrots, peeled or scrubbed and sliced into 2-3 inch pieces; 3 celery stalks, sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Zest of half an orange
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, for a little zing
- Umami Bomb: 1 tablespoon each of 3 or 4 of the following: tamari or soy sauce, roasted garlic paste, anchovy paste, tomato paste, miso paste, marmite
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 bottle (750ml) of reasonably crappy but still drinkable red wine (2 buck chuck is fine) – Reserve 1/4 cup separately
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 packets unflavored gelatin
- Sachet d’Épices: 2 bay leaves, several sprigs of thyme, a few parsley stems, a few strips of orange peel (white stuff – called pith – scraped off with a sharp knife): All wrapped up in a piece of cheesecloth and secured with twine.
- 1-2 lbs of baby yellow potatoes, whole with skins on
- Parsley, for garnish, if desired.
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
Mise En Place
- Trim chuck roast of any excess gristle or silver skin; split two-inch chunks. Season aggressively on all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Prepare Mirepoix: Slice onion, carrots and celery; combine and reserve in a medium bowl
- Prepare mushrooms and reserve in a medium bowl (or the box the came in!)
- Mince garlic and zest orange (and cayenne, if using); combine and reserve in a small bowl
- Make Umami Bomb: Select at least three of the ingredients and smush together in a small bowl until a smooth, homogeneous paste is formed.
- Measure out flour and reserve in a small bowl
- Open bottle of wine and remove cork (You don’t want to be doing this while everything is burning in the pan!). Reserve 1/4 cup separately and set aside.
- Measure out chicken stock and sprinkle gelatin packets on top
- Prepare Sachet d’Épices
- Locate potatoes
- Measure out cornstarch and reserve in a small bowl. Place with reserved 1/4 cup red wine.
- If using oven, preheat oven to 325°F
- In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add 3 tablespoons high smoke point fat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is shimmering, add beef, working in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides, 5-7 minutes per side (Remember: Brown means brown).
- Remove beef and place in a dutch oven or slow cooker. Do not clean out the sauté pan – you should have a lovely fond built up on the bottom of your pan.
- Add mirepoix (celery, onion, carrots) to the pan and sauté over medium heat. As the vegetables release their moisture, scrape up the fond (browned bits) from the bottom of the pan. If the fond threatens to burn or begins to get blackishly dark, add a splash of water or wine to aid in deglazing the pan. Continue to cook mirepoix until lightly caramelized, 10 or so minutes.
- Add mushrooms to the pan, and sauté with mirepoix until lightly darkened, 3 – 5 minutes
- Add minced garlic and orange zest (and cayenne, if using). Sauté until very fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add Umami Bomb and stir well to fully incorporate
- Add flour and stir well to incorporate. Cook off raw flour taste – it will brown slightly and may give off a nutty aroma
- While stirring, slowly add bottle of red wine (Leave reserved 1/4 cup aside). Return heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Allow wine to reduce by 2/3 – it should take on a syrupy consistency. If you run a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan, you should catch a glimpse of the bottom of the pan before the liquid covers it over.
- Once the wine is reduced, dump the contents of the sauté pan over the beef in the dutch oven or slow cooker.
- Pour the 2 cups chicken stock/gelatin mixture over everything
- Add Sachet d’Épices and submerge under liquid
- Add the potatoes and stir well to combine (if a few potatoes are peaking out above the liquid, that’s okay)
- Oven: Cook in oven for 4 hours, mostly covered but with lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape. Slow Cooker: Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8-10 hours.
- To Finish: Use a slotted spoon to remove large chunks from stew (beef, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, etc). Locate Sachet d’Épices and discard. Arrange beef, carrots, onions, celery and potatoes in separate piles on a platter if desired, or just dump back into the dutch oven (pictured)
- Strain remaining liquid into a fat separator (no fat separator? Use this nifty trick!) into a saucepan and bring to a boil – or just skip it; fat is delicious and this ain’t health-food. Reduce for 5 or so minutes until slightly thickened.
- Mix reserved 1/4 cup red wine with 4 tablespoons cornstarch and whisk into a slurry. (You were wondering where I was going with that, huh?)
- Slowly add slurry to boiling braising liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is nice and rich and easily coats the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Pour reduced liquid from saucepan back over beef and vegetables. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serve.