Slow-cooked beef in white wine gravy
A rich, easygoing beef stew that you can make in advance – because it's even better the next day.
This is one of those casual dishes that evolved over five minutes.
I needed to cook a serious-but-not-heavy lunch, and I had a load of other things to do. So I put the beef together with things I knew would taste good, and put it away to cook in a slow oven for four or five hours. At some point, a tempting savory smell wafted through the apartment, and I knew the dish was a success.
The recipe is a loose set of instructions, sort of like those that appear in medieval cookbooks between the dough for pigeon pasties and spiced mead. But you’ll see that it’s all about good ingredients and low heat, so it can’t go wrong. To judge by the Husband’s and the Little One’s enthusiasm, it was actually pretty great.
This beef recipe is so good and easy. Leftovers will taste even better the next day, or several days later. I can tell it’s going to be one of those recipes that makes life easier.
It’s important to use an oven-proof skillet with a lid, or a covered casserole dish, or a pan that will just accommodate the pieces of beef. You want to keep the cooking juices, not have them evaporate in the oven. You can adjust the temperature during the cooking process to prolong or shorten cooking time, but it will take at least three hours to finish.
The quantities below will serve four hearty beef eaters, or six with a selection of side dishes to fill up their plates.
- 2 pounds chuck or shoulder, chopped into 2″ cubes
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons flour
Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C).
In a deep skillet, brown the beef in hot olive oil. Make sure that all sides are colored. Do this in two batches rather than crowd the meat in the skillet. The aim is to caramelize the outer layer of meat, adding color and flavor, and it won't happen if the meat steams. This will take 15-20 minutes.
If you’re cooking in a casserole, transfer the browned beef and its juices and oil to it now. Otherwise, leave the beef in its skillet.
Cover the beef with the chopped onion, garlic and tomato. Place the bay leaf on top. Dribble some soy sauce over all. Season with cumin, salt and pepper to taste.
Do not add any liquid, but cover the casserole or skillet and place in the oven. Stir the stew to distribute everything after a hour. Now, you can judge whether to lower the temperature to 275° F (140° C) and keep cooking for another three to four hours, or leave it as is for another two hours. It’s up to your convenience.
Once the meat is tender and plenty of cooking juices have formed, it’s time to thicken the gravy. Stir the flour into the white wine, making a thin, smooth batter. Pour this batter into the stew, stirring to prevent lumps. Stir a good minute or two. Cover the stew again and let it cook another 15 minutes.
Now it’s ready. Serve it forth, with (or over) hot noodles or rice.
Related Topics: Meat and Poultry