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Beef Stew

This Irish beef stew recipe is shared by James O’Shea, a native of Ireland, who has in recent decades run the prestigious West Street Grill in Litchfield CT. Serves 6-8 persons.

He writes:

Irish beef stew typically contains more vegetables than beef and the ingredients are browned separately in a pan before slow-baking the whole stew. The two-part process results in a stew that tastes meltingly tender while every morsel retains its original flavor and textures. I have updated the delicious Irish version I grew up on.

I allow the beef to infuse gradually with aromatic orange peel, bay leaves, fresh chili, cilantro roots and the celeriac-flavored lovage. Then I add sautéed baby-root vegetables to the pot.

3 lbs. rump roast, trimmed and cut into 3-inch cubes

Flour for dusting

5 tbsps. of Provence brand extra-virgin olive oils (infused with Provence herbs) or any high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ oz. organic garlic cloves (about ½ medium bulb), halved and the center shoot of each clove removed

1 bottle good Pinot Noir

2 large dried orange peels (available from Asian markets or Chinese restaurants)

2 fresh bay leaves

2 roots of cilantro, stems attached, cut to 3-inch lengths

1 3-piece leaf of fresh lovage (or fresh organic celery leaves)

2-inch fresh red chili pepper, membrane and seeds removed, cut in two pieces

2 springs of fresh tarragon

Sea salt to taste

2 gallons spring or filtered water

1 10-ounch bag organic pearl onions or freshly peeled cippolini onions

1 pound organic baby carrots, peeled, with 1 inch of the tops left on

I large white onion, peeled and trimmed

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

2 tbsps. oyster sauce dissolved in 5 tbsps. of water

1 tsp. crushed seeds from freshly grown cilantro or dried coriander seeds as a substitute

1 lb. small, unrinsed chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned with a damp pastry brush, stem ends trimmed

1 tbsp. of butter

Pre-heat the oven to 325o. Place two large, heavy pans on high heat. If using only a single plan be sure to clean it completely between browning batches of meat and reserve all beef juices in a bowl.

Spread flour on a large plate.

Once pans are hot, measure and pour 2 tbsps. oil in each. Roll beef cubes in flour, lightly dusting each piece and then toss gingerly between hands to shake off excess flour. Carefully place the beef cubes in a pan, avoiding overcrowding. Continually shake pan and, using tongs, turn cubes until they are browned on all sides.

Add garlic immediately after placing beef cubes in pan. Once all the ingredients are browned, transfer the meat cubes and garlic to a large, ovenproof casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Reserve beef juices in the pans, which are replaced on the hot stove.

Place 4 cups of water in a kettle to boil and reserve.

Deglaze each pan with a half cup of wine. Stir with the caramelized meat juices until particles are dissolved. Add 1 cup of wine to each pan. Bring to a boil, then pour through a fine sieve over the beef in the casserole (discard remains from sieve).

Place the uncovered casserole on low heat on the stove. Add orange peels, bay leaves, cilantro roots, lovage, red peppers and tarragon. Turn gently. Season with salt. Add hot water from kettle. Bring mixture of meats, herbs and water to a simmer on the stove top. Stir ingredients gently, cover and place in a preheated oven, cooking for three hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables, adding them for the final hour of cooking.

Blanche the pearl onions for two minutes. Allow to cool in running cold water before peeling.

Cut off the root end of onion and gently squeeze toward root end. With one finger push - the onion should emerge unblemished from its skin. Set aside in a separate bowl.

Carrots would be trimmed at root tip and top, leaving one inch of stems. Cut carrots in one 1 ½ inch long pieces. Place in bowl and cover with spring water.

Cut turnips in half. With center down on cutting board, cut each half at an angle to make three triangular batons. Place in bowl and cover with spring water. Ensure that at least one cup of water is reserved for later use.

Peel large onion, cut in half and place on cutting board. Resting the knife edge-down on the outer edge of the onion and quite near the cutting board, aim the knife toward the core of the onion halves and cut entire onions into paper-thin, half-moon shaped sections.

Place a large pan on high heat for approximately three minutes, then add a tablespoon of olive oil. Pull apart onions by hand and drop into pan. Sauté on high for five minutes, continually stirring, then reduce heat to medium-high for another 12 minutes or until onion is soft and light brown.

Drain carrots and turnips and add to onions. Turn heat up to high. Add pepper and continue to stir and sauté for seven to 10 minutes or until vegetables caramelize and brown. Stir in oyster sauce dissolved in water and crushed coriander seeks (or substitute). Cook three minutes and remove from heat.

Remove casserole from oven. Carefully remove lid (avoid steam burns) and tip in vegetables. Add one cup more of spring water. Stir together gently. Cover and return to oven for 50 minutes. Remove once more and stir in pearl onions. Cover and return to oven for final 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, discard orange peel pieces, season with salt. Replace cover and set casserole aside. Heat large pan on high for two minutes, add butter and olive oil. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are light brown, constantly shaking the pan.

Serve the stew in small portions, garnished with mushrooms. The stew works well with Irish champ (scallion potatoes) and a simple green salad. I recommend a proven pinot noir vintage such as Carneros Robert Mondavi 1996 Unfiltered. And I always have a basket of warm, crusty bread on the table.