I serve beef stew over white rice, but you can do warmed crusty bread or biscuits, or (s)mashed potatoes. Whatever your family likes. And, stew is even better the second day, right?
BEEF STEW CITYMAMA-STYLE
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (or fat rendered for 3 slices of plain bacon)
1 extra-large onion, diced
2 carrots sliced in 1-inch-thick chunks (on the bias if you want to be fancy)
2 celery stalks also sliced in 1-inch-thick chunks
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 dried bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 pounds of beef stew meat (cut into 2 inch cubes)
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1/2 cup red wine (or beef stock)
1 large can whole plum tomatoes + juices
peel of half an orange (remove as much white pith as possible)
In a large dutch oven, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme in oil (or fat) over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until onions just turn translucent. Remove veggies to a bowl with slotted spoon leaving as much oil in the pot as possible.
In the meantime, place flour and salt and pepper (to taste) in a plastic bag along with the meat. Shake until meat pieces are well-coated. Place into the pot that you've just removed the veggies from and cook until pieces are very well browned and no pinkness is left. Don't disturb to much during cooking.
When meat is nicely browned, deglaze the pan with the wine, then add in veggies, tomatoes, and orange peel.
Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for three hours. Remove bay leaves, thyme springs, and orange peel and adjust seasonings before serving. Serves 6-8.