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Denise's Spring Stew with Lemon, Mint, & Glazed Carrots

Serve with mashed potatoes or brown, red, or black rice. Suggested vegetables: grilled asparagus, fresh peas, or fava beans. For a spring stew you want more tender meat and a less gamey flavor, ask your butcher for younger beef from a female cow. Shoulder meat is the best for stew, such as chuck. A rear muscle like a bottom round works, but chuck is more tender because there is more connective tissue, which keeps the meat moist during along, slow simmer. Pro tip: Buy a chuck blade and cut the stew meat yourself. 
Servings: 4
Author: Denise Pardini, Hotel Castello di Sinio

Ingredients

  • 1 kg / 2 1/4 lbs stew meat cut into 2-inch squares
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into eights
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • ½ bottle white wine (or even the whole bottle, as Denise often does)
  • 1.5 liters cold water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Instructions

  • Prepare all your vegetables.
  • Lay the meat on a cutting board or large cookie sheet. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder your meat. Toss the pieces well to coat.
  • Sprinkle 2 TBS of flour over the meat. Toss the cubes to coat evenly. Sprinkle the other 2 TBS of flour over the meat and toss again to make sure the meat is well coated and all the flour is used.

Browning the meat

  • If using a dutch oven, brown in two or three batches. A rondeau pan will have a wider bottom and all the meat browns in one go. A nice brown crust is essential for creating a rich-tasting stew, so do not rush the process.
  • Heat the olive oil on medium in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or rondeau such as a Le Creuset or similar. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the meat in one even layer, leaving a bit of space between the cubes.
  • Do NOT move the pieces around but leave to brown well on the bottom and then turn each piece over to brown the other side. A pair of tongs is useful here. Remove the pieces and put on a plate. As necessary, repeat with remaining meat.
  • ADD the wine: When the meat is nicely browned, return it to the pot and pour half (or the whole) bottle of dry white wine over the meat. The wine should bubble vigorously. With a spatula, like a pancake turner, scrape up the carnalized browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot and incorporate it into the liquid.
  • ADD the water. Make sure the 1.5 liters of water is COLD. Turn up the heat and return to boil. Then, decrease to a low simmer.
  • In a skillet, heat 1 TBS of olive oil and add all the chopped vegetables: onion, carrot, celery, and minced garlic. Cook on medium to medium-high heat until the onion becomes just translucent. Add all the lightly toasted vegetables to the stew and stir to combine.
  • Simmer for 2 hours, partially covered. The lid should be on about half-way so the pot is not completely covered. Check every 15 minutes or so, gently stirring the stew. Keep the meat almost submerged in liquid. If it gets below by about 3/4s, add another cup or so of cold water.
  • In the meantime, peel and cut the other two carrots into oblique shapes. In a small sauté pan, bring a cup of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Add the carrots and cook until just tender. Pour off all but 1 TBS of water. Put back on the heat and add 1 TBS of olive oil and carefully reduce the water down to almost nothing. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Prep your asparagus, peas, fava beans, or veggie of choice and set aside.
  • After 2 hours, check the meat to see if it is nice and tender. If needed, continue to simmer another 15 minutes to a half-hour, adding a little bit of water as needed to keep the liquid up to 3/4s of the meat.
  • Finishing the stew: There are two ways you can go here – keep it rustic or make it more refined.
  • Add cream, lemon zest, and mint as follows:
  • Refined: Remove the pieces of meat to a clean platter. Strain the stew juices into a clean pot through a medium-fine large strainer. Press hard on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the stewing vegetables. Wash out your dutch oven and return the meat and stew juices to the pot. Add the oblique carrots. Then add the heavy cream, grated lemon zest, and chopped fresh mint. Stir gently into the stew and bring back to a simmer. Adjust for salt but the stew should be just about right. Denise says the extra effort here is totally worth it. Serve and enjoy.
  • Rustic. No need to remove the stewing vegetables, just add the other oblique cut carrots. Then add the heavy cream, lemon zest, and chopped fresh mint. Stir gently and briefly bring back to simmer. Adjust for salt but the stew should be just about right. Serve and enjoy.

Notes

Copyright Denise Pardini 2008 - 2020, hotelcastellodisinio.com