You’re buying a roast for this so you can have big chunks of meat in the stew, not the mingy ones you so often get when you buy stew meat. If your carrots are thicker than your index finger, slice them in half lengthwise.
As with any stew, this is even better when you’ve made it the day before, but that’s not to say it won’t be really good if you eat it the day you cook it. It does need to marinate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Yield: 6 servings
- 1 (4-pound) beef chuck roast
- 1 onion, peeled and stuck with 4 cloves, plus 2 onions, sliced thin
- 2 (5-inch) pieces orange zest
- 2 herb bouquets—each made with 10 parsley sprigs, 4 thyme sprigs, and a bay leaf, tied with kitchen string
- 2 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
- 1 bottle fruity red wine, like a Côtes du Rhône
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 pounds small carrots, peeled
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- Cut the beef into big chunks, about 2 inches square. Trim off and discard any big pieces of fat. Put the beef in a large bowl, along with the onion you’ve got stuck with cloves, the strips of orange zest, 1 of the herb bouquets, the brandy, and wine. Cover and stick it in the refrigerator to marinate at least 8 hours (24 hours will be even better).
- Strain, reserving the marinade and the onion. Discard the zest and herb bouquet.
- Dry the beef well (damp meat sticks when you brown it) and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide saucepan or a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the meat—in batches, so you don’t crowd and steam the beef. Remove the pieces as they brown and keep them in a bowl; add a bit more oil to the pan should you need it.
- While the meat browns, take the cloves out of the marinade onion and discard them. Slice that onion thin. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and all the sliced onions to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt and cook the onions, stirring once in a while, until they are very soft and beginning to turn gold at the edges, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste turns brick red, which will take a minute or two.
- Put the beef and any juices that have accumulated into the pan, along with the reserved marinade and the other herb bouquet. Give the stew a stir and add the carrots, burying them in the marinade. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the stew simmers gently, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef and carrots are fork-tender.
- If you’ve made the stew for serving tomorrow, let it cool before you refrigerate it, covered. Pull off any congealed fat, which will be a lovely orange, before reheating.
- If you’re serving the stew today, tilt the pan and spoon off the fat.
- Stir in the zest right before you serve the stew.
Beverage pairing: Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas, France. A hearty, beefy stew wants a full, rich red wine. Lots of things could work, but the mélange of vegetables, spice, and zest suggests something with a bright, well-spiced fruit component, and Gigondas, a Rhône wine made from Grenache, always hits those high notes. It also has enough structure and muscle to make an ample foil for the tender meat.