This is the best stew you will ever eat! I have declared it and sung it from the mountain tops…it’s so dang good! As you know if you read my blog posts, I live in Canada and we have dark, cold, miserable winters which sucks, there’s no way around it but the one great thing about a cold and miserable, snowy day is when some angel (like myself) makes a pot of hot, rich, beefy, delicious stew and serves it on top of creamy, cheesy polenta; it is like a big hug from a fat Grandma.
The trick to this stew is building flavour; building flavour includes seasoning but it has more to do with cooking methods. The mushrooms in this dish are key, most people, including a lot of Chefs cook them completely wrong and I think that’s why a lot of people don’t like them. Mushrooms are like little food sponges, they will take on any flavours you give them but they also contain a tonne of water and can look grey and slimy if you don’t cook them properly. Treat them like a piece of steak, you need to sear them to create a golden crust and create a deep, earthy flovour called Umami (look it up, it’s basically heaven in your mouth). Once you’ve seared the mushrooms & beef, added the garlic and add the onion which is the single most used and most important ingredient in cooking, you get what’s called a fond on the bottom of the pan, that’s the little browned bits stuck to the bottom of your pan, it’s huge flavour and to make the most of it, you need to get it off the pan and into the gravy, so you deglaze with some sherry… now sherry and mushrooms are very best friends and the smell of your kitchen when you add the sherry to the mushrooms and onion, holy cow…it’s so good!
I’m Telling you, this is the thing to make if you want to hunker down and just hibernate on a Sunday… or if you live in a warm state and just envy those of us who hunker down; either way, give this one a try. I called this recipe Hunter Stew because I often use Deer that my husband and my son hunt in the fall but it’s amazing with beef, moose, elk etc…
375g Mushrooms, cut into quarters
45g Vegetable Oil
175g Red Onion, small dice
4 Cloves Garlic (large), minced
Parmesan Rinds (if you have some)
12g Kosher or Sea Salt
1 Tsp Fresh Black Pepper
400ml Cooking Sherry or Marsala Wine
1500g Beef Stew Meat, 1 inch cubes (sub. deer, moose or elk)
1800ml Beef Stock
25g Better Than Bouillion, Beef
1 Tsp Dried Thyme Leave (not ground) or 2 Tbsp Fresh (even better)
Prepapre all veg. Heat a large, heavy bottom soup pot on high heat, add oil and butter to melt, add mushrooms and sear until golden brown.
Add the beef and brown on all sides, there may be some liquid in the pot, allow that to evaporate and the beef will begin to brown, this could take up to 20 minutes depending on the liquid content.Reduce heat to medium/low and add onions, allow the onions to cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir just to warm it up. Add the flour to the pot and stir to coat all the ingredients and to cook the flour for approx. 2 minutes while stirring continuously. Turn the heat back to medium high, deglaze with sherry, so pour the sherry into the pot and scrape the bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, beef bouillion, thyme, salt and pepper. You can add the parmesan rinds at this point if you have some, I keep them when I finish a block of cheese and just freeze them for recipes like this, it adds a nutty, saltyness to the gravy but it’s entirely optional.
Allow to cook on very low heat for 2 hours or in the oven at 300°F for 3-4 hours or in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. The beef will be fork tender and the gravy will be rich and beefy. Feel free to add carrots, potatoes and pearl onions in the last 45 minutes of cooking. Garnish with some fresh chopped italian parsley. Enjoy!