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A frugal beef stew

July 08, 2011|Scott Anderson | Culinary Passion

This recipe comes to you by way of the Jeff Smith aka "The Frugal Gourmet," a fellow TV chef that passed away in 2004 amid a cloud of controversy.  

He was instrumental in my first glimpses of cooking on TV before there ever was a food or cooking channel and his wit and fun in the kitchen certainly made for creative recipes.

I believe he helped usher in a move from PBS to center-stage cooking and paved the way for the culinary shows we watch today.

As a tribute to The Frugal Gourmet, I'd like to present my take on his classic recipe utilizing wine in marinating beef to bring out the flavor in tough cuts of meat.  

By soaking tough but flavorful cuts of meat in wine for several hours you break down the connective tissues and collagen making the meat more appetizing and tender.

 An additional side benefit is cutting down on added salt, which is always a good thing.

Only use a wine that you would consume, never cook with turned, off or corked wine, as you will impart that off flavor into the meat you are preparing.

—Scott C. Anderson is associate food service director and chef with Shepherd University dining services in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.



Beef stew—Frugal Gourmet style



2 pounds beef chuck roast – cubed (sometimes referred to as stew meat)

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

3 celery stalks, cleaned and sliced

1 parsnip, cleaned and sliced

1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3 cups Zinfandel  wine (see cook's note)  

4 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste



Place everything, except grapeseed oil and tomato paste into a marinade container with a sealable lid. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours, mix around every few hours to make sure everything is evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the meat from the marinade and save everything. Heat a metallic skillet over medium-high heat (don't use a nonstick skillet unless that's all you have.)

 Add in the oil and toss in a small amount of meat, making sure not to crowd the pan to allow even browning. Continue in this fashion until all the meat is cooked. When the meat is browned, remove from the pan and place into a large glass casserole dish.  

Add the vegetables and wine, stir in tomato paste until blended, then bring to a boil and gradually pour over browned meat.  

Place into oven covered for approximately 2 hours or until meat is fork tender.

Remove from the oven and ladle over fresh cooked al dente egg noodles or hot-from-the-oven buttermilk biscuits.

Cook's note: Chef Scott prefers red wine, but blush will work in a pinch.

Serves 6 to 8

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