Sunday, March 20, 2011

Debi's Beef Stew With Polenta

Serve Tuscan Green Beans or broccoli rabe on the side.

Ingredients for the beef stew:
3 T olive oil
1 red onion, cut into medium dice
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 pounds stew beef (boneless chuck), excess fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
8 sprigs fresh thyme
3 medium fresh tomatoes, halved, around the circumference
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for polenta:
1 T olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 cup instant polenta

Preparing the beef stew:
In heavy, large Dutch oven over moderately-high heat, heat 3 tablespoons oil until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the beef and saute, stirring occasionally, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add wine and thyme, stir well, and bring to boil.

Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, then lower heat to moderately low, cover, and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

* * * * * *

Preparing the polenta:
While the beef is simmering, make the polenta. Pour the olive oil into a large serving bowl and swirl to coat. Set aside.

In heavy, large pot over moderately-high heat, bring stock to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and gradually whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until polenta thickens and pulls away from sides of pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer the polenta to an oil-coated serving bowl and keep warm. Let the polenta sit for 5 to 10 minutes so it can set up.

* * * * * *

Assembling the dish:
When the beef is tender, fish out the tomato skins and the thyme sprigs' stalks.

Turn the polenta out of the bowl, slice, and serve as is alongside the stew, OR, grill or fry the slices of polenta in a teaspoon of olive oil until they take on some color and the edges crisp.

Serves 4 to 6


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