Adding vegetables such as carrots and celery twice during the cooking process (once at the outset, and again 5 minutes before serving) gives the dish a more complex flavor and texture: the long-cooked vegetables thicken the consistency and provide a mellow base note; the vegetables tossed in toward the finish give fresh bursts of color, crunch, and flavor. (Adding cabbage, greens, carrots, and celery 5 minutes before serving also ups the stew's nutritional content.) Naturally (and this is the great thing about stews, I think) the ingredients can be varied or minimized, depending on what you have on hand. I generally cook the day before serving (as described below). It's not necessary (obviously), but it definitely improves the flavor.
You will need:
3+ quarts of stock or water
2 lbs of beef stew meat
1/2 cup of flour
3 tablespoons of olive oil or bacon grease
1/8 cup of wine (both red and white work; sherry is also good)
1 onion (coarsely chopped)
1/2 leek (green and white portions, chopped) (optional)
1 tablespoon of fresh garlic or onion chives (chopped) (optional)
5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 turnips (chopped)
3-4 potatoes (chopped)
3 stalks of celery (diced)
3-4 mushrooms (chopped) (optional)
2 carrots (diced)
1 tomato (when in season)
1 cup of seasonal greens such as kale (optional)
1/4 cup of cabbage (optional)
1/2 cup of corn (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup of parsley (diced)
1/2 serrano chile (optional)
2 teaspoons of marjoram
3 teaspoons of smoked paprika (regular paprika will do, but smoked is better)
2 teaspoons of coarse black pepper
sea salt to taste
1. Mix flour, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and salt in a bowl. 2. Dredge stew meat in mixture.
3. Heat olive oil or bacon grease in a large pot (preferably cast iron).
4. Brown meat in oil.
5. Temporarily remove meat.
6. Add the onion, leeks, potatoes, thyme, salt, chile, the rest of the paprika and pepper, 1 tablespoon of stock or water, and wine.
7. Cook until the onions are translucent.
8. Add corn, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, marjoram, garlic, turnips,
9. Add the rest of the stock or water and bring to a boil.
10. Add browned meat. Turn down to simmer and cook for 3-6 hours.
11. Turn off and allow to sit, preferably over night. (optional)
12. Resume cooking for 40 minutes.
13. Add cabbage, greens, parsley, chives, and the remaining celery and carrots.
14. Simmer for 5 minutes.
15. Salt to taste. Serve. (It's good with grated sharp cheddar or Parmesan or both.)
(A version of this recipe originally appeared on Consumption, the blog at my Web site.)