COMFORT FOOD RECIPE: A CLASSIC IRISH BEEF STEW

On St. Patrick’s Day, we’re all Irish… and during the cold winter months, we’re all usually craving food that is warm, comforting, and hearty and Irish Beef Stew recipe has all of those characteristics. It really could not be easier to make and it is also very affordable so it is the perfect recipe for a St. Paddy’s Day (or any) celebration.

Note: Add the carrots and potatoes later in the process so they don’t disintegrate totally during cooking but you do want the potatoes to help thicken the stew as it cooks. For this reason, I add a few potatoes when I add the carrots and reserve the rest for the final 20 minutes of cooking time so they have some texture left.

IRISH BEEF STEW

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 -3 pounds boneless chuck, cut into 2” cubes (you can use stew meat or ask the butcher to cut into cubes for you)

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 white onion, diced small

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef broth plus a bit more, depending on how thick you like your stew

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh Italian parsley plus more for garnish

6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces

4-5 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" cubes 

DIRECTIONS:

Tie the parsley and the thyme together in a bundle using kitchen twine to make it easy to remove. Set aside.

Add the flour, salt, pepper to a large zip top bag. Shake to combine. Add the meat to the bag and shake to coat all of the pieces evenly.

Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and place over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the contents of the bag to the pan and brown, turning the meat frequently to cook on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add the onion and cook for approximately 3 minutes, stirring often. Once softened slightly, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Deglaze the pan using the red wine, scraping up the browned bits of flour from the pan as you go. Stir until you reach a smooth consistency. Once you do, add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, clove, thyme, and parsley.

Bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Check after 40 minutes. Stir gently and determine if you need to add more liquid. Add the carrots and a few potatoes. Cover and continue cooking.

After one hour, check again and add the remaining potatoes. You may need to add a bit more broth. Check the seasoning now and determine if you need more salt or pepper. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender.

When done, remove the cloves, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Serve over buttered wide egg noodles or with a toasted slice of crusty bread. Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley.

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RECIPE: HEARTY BEEF BOLOGNESE

I don't think I like anything much more than Bolognese-- a rich meat sauce usually served over pasta. I build my Bolognese with lots of flavor--- and really let it cook down to almost a paste consistency to make it really hearty. You can reconstitute it with stock if you want to thin it out a little before serving. Bolognese, a cold salad, some fresh bread, and a good bottle of wine is a party in my book. 

Hearty Beef Bolognese over pasta

 Prep Time: 15    Cook Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 strips bacon or pancetta, diced

1 large onion, diced fine

1 cup carrots, diced very fine or grated

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme- minced (ok use 1/2 t. dried thyme instead)

1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced (ok to use 1/4 t. dried oregano)

Pinch fresh ground nutmeg

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground veal (optional, substitute beef or ground pork if you prefer)

 3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups red wine (optional- you can sub beef or chicken broth)

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes including the juice, crushed

1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree

3 cups beef broth (you can also use vegetable or chicken)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

Pinch. sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon. fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped fine

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

DIRECTIONS:

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat. Over medium-high heat, add the bacon and cook until browned. Add the carrots and onions. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the beef and the sausage. Cook until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Drain off any extra grease. Return to the heat. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute, stirring constantly over medium high heat. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and nutmeg. Allow the mixture to brown well, you will hear some popping and crackling. This is a good thing. Don't stir too often but don't let it burn, either. Cook until a crust forms.

Add 1 cup of the red wine (or use stock if you are not cooking with the wine) and use that to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping all of the crust off the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Let the wine reduce completely, stirring occasionally. Add the other cup of wine and cook, reducing the liquid until it is almost completely gone. Once the wine has cooked down, add the juice from the whole tomatoes. Reduce the heat. Then crush 6 tomatoes by hand and add them to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the remaining tomatoes. Add that plus the tomato puree and half of the beef broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to keep the sauce from sticking on the bottom of the pot. Add the sugar, red pepper flakes, and the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently. Add more beef broth as the sauce cooks down and becomes thick. You want the sauce to be very thick and paste like but you can add the broth to reconstitute it a bit if you like.

Before serving, remove the bay leaf. Stir in the cream. Serve with the Parmesan cheese over any hot pasta you like. Sprinkle the cheese over the hot pasta, then ladle over the sauce. Top with fresh parsley.

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NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER RECIPE FROM FOOD NETWORK STAR CHEF MICHELE RAGUSSIS

If you watched Season 8 of Food Network Star, you undoubtedly remember Chef Michele Ragussis. I could think of no better person to go to for a recipe on National New England Clam Chowder Day than Michele. She is an expert on New England cuisine. Her pilot for Food Network, My New England, highlights her love of the region and her passion for cooking the seafood found in its waters.

This is Michele's award-winning New England Clam Chowder recipe. It's like a trip to the New England coast in a bowl... comforting, rich, and rustic. Note that Michele indicates using frozen clams if you cannot find fresh. I know you'll enjoy this recipe- it is one of the best clam chowders I've ever eaten. Thank you, Michele, for allowing me to share it! Read more about Michele in my interview or on her blog: Chef on a Pier

MICHELE’S NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER

INGREDIENTS

1 pound (4 sticks) butter

1 1/2 white onions, diced

5 stalks celery, sliced thin

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons clam base* or clam juice

4 potatoes (Idaho or Russet), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 pounds fresh chopped clams **

4 cups heavy cream

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

1 loaf crusty bread, for serving

* Find clam base at the seafood market or substitute clam juice, found at most grocery stores

**Look for fresh clams at your local seafood market, or use high-quality frozen clams

DIRECTIONS:

In a deep stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Let the flour cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 8 cups water and the clam base and whisk vigorously, making sure there are no lumps from the flour. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Stir in the potatoes and chopped clams. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cream, dill, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened, another 20 minutes. Check for seasoning, add a few dashes hot sauce, and serve with your favorite crusty bread.

Recipe copyright Michelle Ragussis, 2011

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