Making an amazing stew is a whole lot simpler than most people figure. After you brown up your beef, all you basically have to do is throw a bunch of tasty ingredients in a pot and let it do its thing. Adding green beans at the end of cooking freshens up the stew and their snap is cool. You can make it completely in advance, as far as 2 days ahead of time. Just refrigerate it right in the pot and reheat it over low heat. You'll have to stir in a cup or so of water because the stew will have thickened up. (Do the water thing if you're reheating leftover stew too.) I use butter to brown the beef because it adds richness to the stew and makes for a creamier gravy. But you can substitute any type of oil for the butter if you want. Pretty much any decent red wine will do for stew; I like using Burgundy or Cabernet Sauvignon but the basic rule is that as long as you'd be happy drinking what you're cooking with you're in good shape.
- 2 pounds beef chuck for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 medium carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 small onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans reduced-sodium beef or chicken broth
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 handfuls green beans, ends trimmed
Season the beef cubes lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy 6-quart pot over medium heat. As soon as the butter starts to turn brown, add half the beef and raise the heat to high. At first, the beef will give off some liquid, but once that evaporates, the beef will start to brown. Cook, turning the beef cubes on all sides until the pieces are as evenly browned as possible, about 5 or 6 minutes after the water has boiled off. If the pan starts to get too brown at any point, just turn down the heat a little. Scoop the beef into a bowl and brown the rest of the beef the same way using the remaining butter.
Scoop out the second batch of beef, then add the carrots and onions and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour until it has been worked into the veggies and you cant see it any more. Pour in the chicken broth, wine, and crushed tomatoes, and toss in the rosemary. Slide the beef back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.
Turn down the heat so the liquid is just breaking a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook 50 minutes. Stir the stew several times while simmering so it cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the bottom.
Stir the potatoes into the stew, cover the pot completely, and cook until the potatoes and beef are tender, stirring occasionally, about another 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes until the green beans turn bright green and are cooked through but still have a nice snap to them.