Rider on the Storm

With bitter cold temperatures beating down the door this past weekend, some serious comfort food was in the cards for Sunday night supper. In an effort to produce a well balanced meal, I perused my new preferred platform, Food52, for a suitable contender. I deliberated over a recipe for Lebanese chicken tagine with apricots and almonds. I found another marvelous compilation comprised of lamb shoulder, squash and peas. What ultimately generated excitement from the one person peanut gallery was that of a beef stew. 

This particular recipe called for a secret ingredient, anchovies. After some due diligence spurred by my very own curiosity, I learned that many such recipes call for anchovies. Who knew? I grew up watching my mother eat sardines on toast so the notion of fish in a jar, brined, in paste form or straight from the tin did not seem too foreign a concept. I purchased my first jar of anchovies packed in olive oil sometime last year when I made salsa verde. 

Salsa verde is a spectacular green sauce that pairs marvelously with a myriad of meats as well as potatoes. Basically, you can put this stuff on anything. I made this one Saturday afternoon to accompany pulled chicken leftover from a broth making session. I mixed two little guys from my jar with great quality olive oil, shallots, red wine vinegar, parsley, lemon zest, basil and capers. The end result was an intense and flavorful medley. By the next day, I was spooning it onto any and everything I could. Bonjour.

Nowadays, when I make pesto, I add an anchovy for good measure. Anchovies pimp most sauces in that when introduced to a hot pan and olive oil, they literally melt into the flavor medley. My Bolognese and marinara sauces are naked without them. They single handedly up the ante. This was absolutely the case with Sunday night’s beef stew. I made a pair of changes to the recipe like cutting the amount of meat roughly in half and adding some spices of my own. Instead of cooking my stew on the stove, I prepared everything in the Dutch oven and popped it in the oven. This shortened the cooking time from 3 to 1.5 hours. Had I gotten started earlier, a nice long braise at a lower oven temperature would have been in the cards.

Most stews pair very well with rice, polenta, quinoa, millet, mashed potatoes or noodles. I had a big pot of garbanzo beans slow cooking on the stove in chicken broth, so we scooped them into a shallow bowl and generously spooned the stew on top. I am all about cutting calories where I can. The end result was a delicious, hearty meal that yielded leftover’s for partner-in-crime’s lunch yesterday, today and contingent upon weather, possibly tomorrow.  

Given that polar vortexes and freak snowstorms are in the cards for many regions at present, this savory beef stew is the perfect meal for such weather. I can assure you that all campers will be very happy indeed.  Stay warm, be safe and enjoy the snow, in whichever corner of the Earth you may be.

Secret Ingredient Beef Stew
Adapted from Food52 

You Will Need

3 lbs of beef stewing meat cut into 3 inch chunks
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks – sliced thin
1 white onion – chopped
6 cloves of garlic – chopped
2 carrots – chopped
4 celery stalks – chopped
1 punnet of mushrooms – I used cremini – I threw them in whole
¼ cup of tomato paste
2 little anchovies – I buy mine packed in olive oil
1 cup of good red wine
4 cups of beef broth
¼ cup of tomato paste
1 cup of canned, diced tomatoes and their juices
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
A bunch of flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt


1. Slice your leeks and set in a small bowl. Can we talk about how much I love leeks? They are great additions to almost everything - soups, stews, sauces, for cooking beans. Start keeping them in your fridge. Now, finely dice your onion, garlic, carrots and celery in the Cuisinart. Add to the same vegetable bowl. Once the vegetable prep work is complete, spice your meat with salt and pepper. In your Dutch oven, brown the meat in the olive oil over high heat. Once both sides are browned, transfer to a plate. 

2. Add ½ cup of beef broth to the Dutch oven and with a spoon, scrape all the lovely bits from the bottom. Now lower the heat and add the vegetables. Cook for seven to ten minutes or until they have softened.

3. Add the tomato paste as well as the anchovies. Stir regularly. The anchovies will literally melt into the mix.

4. Add the beef back to the Dutch oven along with the wine, tomatoes and beef stock. Now add a couple of pinches of salt, the bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon and paprika. Bring to a boil and then turn off the stove.

5. Transfer your Dutch oven containing bubbling stew to the oven. I cooked mine uncovered for 90 minutes at 425. Again, you know your oven best. Stir every half hour or so. Once the clock strikes do not be alarmed that the liquid has almost completely evaporated. This braising is what yields the most magnificent, tender meat.

6. Add the parsley to the mix and give a generous stir. Serve your stew over whatever wets your whistle.

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