French Beef Stew with Red Wine over Mashed Potatoes

What sets this French Beef Stew served over mashed potatoes apart from all the others? The wine – an entire bottle of your favorite wine! (And by that I don’t mean your favorite cooking wine, but the stuff you like to sip by the glassful). The whole house will smell like a winery as the stew simmers on the stove top. When selecting which red wine to use, keep in mind different wines will yield a different flavor – a sweeter red wine will render a sweeter stew, a deep red wine will produce a deep, rich broth. Since this stew relies on an entire bottle of red wine for its broth, make sure it’s one you truly enjoy. If you aren’t a fan of strong red wine flavors (and let me tell you this stew will pack one heck of a wine punch), you can cut back on the wine while adding beef stock to make up the difference. Don’t abandon the wine completely, as it is an important component to the overall flavor of the stew.

Just before serving, be sure to taste the stew and add salt just a pinch more if needed. Remember, the green olives will bring a salty flavor to the finished dish, so tasting at the end is important.

French Beef Stew with Red Wine
2 lb stew beef
Sea Salt, slightly coarse (but only a pinch)
White Pepper (lightly)
1 bottle of your favorite Red Wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme, more for garnish if desired
2 bay leaves
1 Cup Baby Carrots
1 orange, peeled and broken into natural segments
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rings
2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 6-oz can tomato paste (10 tablespoons if using from a tube)
1/2 cup green olives, optional

Season meat with salt and pepper and set aside. Go lightly with the white pepper, it is a much finer grade than black pepper. You can always add a pinch or two more at the end, but you can never take back too much pepper.

Pour wine into a resealable bag or large marinating container. Add thyme, bay leaves, carrots, orange segments, onion rings and garlic. Mix well. If using a bag (my preferred method only because the bag can lay flat in the refrigerator), give the sealed bag a few good shakes. Place stew meat in same container as your wine marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to cook, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Use just enough oil to lightly coat pot to prevent the meat from sticking. Using tongs, remove stew meat from bag and brown in hot oil, turning as needed to brown on all sides. DO NOT strain wine marinade. Pour contents of bag over browned stew meat and bring to a boil. Gently boil for about 5-8 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer and add tomato paste. Stir well. Cover, and let simmer on low heat for about 2 or 3 hours, until meat is fork-tender.

Add olives (if using) and let stew simmer uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to thicken, creating a rich, flavorful reduced wine “gravy”.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
8 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
salt to taste
8 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup half & half,  warmed

Place cubed potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, salt liberally, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until they are fork-tender. Keep an eye on the potatoes as they boil to make sure they don’t boil over. If necessary, skim the top of the pot to remove any excessive “foam”.

Drain potatoes, then return to the sauce pan and “dry” them over low heat. Add garlic and warmed half & half. Heat until garlic is fragrant and cream begins to simmer.

Transfer to the large bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whip. Whip potatoes until completely smooth.

Ladle potatoes into bowls or rimmed plates. Ladle stew over potatoes. Garnish each serving with a sprig of thyme for added color, if desired.

Serve and enjoy. As with most stews, warm French bread is a great addition to lap up all the wonderful juices.

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