When Fall rolls around we turn to warmer, heartier foods (especially living in Canada), and what says cold-weather eating like stew? This recipe is my favourite for a couple reasons, it’s rich and flavourful, the meat is fall-apart tender, oh and the sauce is made of wine. Just wine. I’m serious, it’s a whole bottle of wine.
This recipe is a weekend meal, best served with friends or family and a generous glass of wine. Although it may take a couple hours from start to finish, the good news is most of that time is spent in the oven. So, ready to go? Let’s get to it!
Skip to the end for just to recipe or follow along for a step-by-step!
A note on wine before we get started: this is not the time to be using your best cellared wine (you should be drinking that, duh), but it’s also not the time to use that bottle of terrible wine you hate the taste of. Find a reasonably priced, very drinkable bottle of red for this recipe (aka one where you actually enjoy the flavour); personally my go-to is the one in the photo below, it’s called Luccarelli Primitivo, and you can pick it up at the LCBO for about $11. Okay, on to the recipe!
- Start by heating a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot (one with a lid, preferably a dutch oven) over medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil. Meanwhile, slice your thick-cut pancetta into ribbons.
2. Get the pancetta in the pot, and begin cooking it until crisp.
3. While that’s happening, pat down your cubed beef with a paper towel (this helps with the browning process), then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
4. Once the pancetta is nice and crispy, remove it and reserve for later, and start browning the meat in the pancetta fat (if you find that it’s extra fatty, feel free to remove some of it before browning). Around this time you can probably preheat your oven to 350ºF.
*PSA: DO NOT, AND I REPEAT, DO NOT CROWD. THE. PAN. Don’t dump all of the beef in and stir it around while it turns a sad grey colour. You’ll end up boiling the meat and losing out on the gorgeous flavour. Instead, add the meat in batches, allowing the sides to get nice and brown.
- Brown the meat in batches on medium-high to high heat, allowing each side to become browned.
6. In the meantime, chop the onion and mince the garlic.
7. Once all the meat is browned, turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, and after a minute or two add the garlic, cook these until soft.
If you find the pot to be a little dry feel free to add a touch more olive oil. Also, I like to add the onion first to bring down the heat a bit and prevent the garlic from burning, because once you burn garlic there’s no going back.
8. Add the browned beef, pancetta, and all the juices back into the pot, and sprinkle the top with the flour, stirring to coat everything.
9. Toss in bay leaves and the fresh thyme.
10. And now for the wine! All of it, the whole bottle, pour it all in, and make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot with a wooden spoon to get all those lovely brown bits!
11. Bring everything to a boil, and then cover the dish and pop it into the preheated oven. Now you can sit back and relax for the next hour until phase 2!
*The stew will need to spend about an hour and a half to two hours in the oven, so about half an hour before it’s done you can start on the veggies. I recommend pulling the stew out at least once in the cooking process to give it a stir. I do the veggies separately so they don’t become overcooked, and also have a chance to become caramelized (as you might have guessed, caramelization is the name of the game with this recipe)
12. Time to slice up your veggies; cut the cremini mushrooms and cipollini onions in half, and cut the carrots into chunks on an angle.
13. In a large pan toss in the carrots and onions with about a quarter inch of water, turn to medium high heat and cover, allowing the veggies to cook until just tender and the water is evaporated, about 10 minutes or so.
14. Add a splash of olive oil to the pan, then add in the mushrooms, a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper, and toss everything to coat.
15. Cook all the veggies until caramelized and the mushrooms are tender, turn off the heat and set aside.
16. At this point you should be pretty close, pull the stew out and give it a stir, the sauce should have thickened substantially and the meat should be fall-apart tender. In my oven this took closer to two hours, so don’t rush it! You’ll be kicking yourself if you pull it out too early and end up eating chewy beef bubble-gum in watery sauce.
17. Pull the bay leaves and leftover thyme springs out, then dump in those lovely caramelized veggies, mixing everything together. Give it a taste and make sure it has enough salt and pepper for your liking.
18. And guess what friends, we’re done! Serve with some garlic thyme toasts (recipe below), and a big ol’ glass of red wine, and you’ve got a pretty great Fall meal.
Garlic Thyme Toasts
- Turn your oven to broil and slice a baguette on an angle (more surface area = more room for flavour)
- Place them on a baking sheet rimmed with foil, and drizzle with olive oil, getting some on each side.
- Pop in the oven until toasty (this will only take a minute or two)
- When they come out, butter the toasted side then rub with a clove of peeled garlic
- Sprinkle with some fresh thyme, and serve while warm.
Red Wine Beef Stew with Garlic Thyme Toasts
- 150g pancetta, sliced into ribbons
- 2 lbs stewing beef, cubed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaped tablespoon flour
- 1 bottle red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 generous sprig of thyme
- Salt & pepper
- 15 cremini mushrooms, halved
- 5 small carrots, cut into chunks at an angle
- 15 cipollini onions, peeled and halved
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Cook pancetta over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot
- In the meantime, pat down beef with a paper towel and liberally season with salt and pepper
- When pancetta is crisp, remove from heat reserving the fat
- In batches, brown the meat on all sides
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, then the garlic and cook until soft
- Add the browned beef, pancetta, and the juices back into the pot, sprinkle with the flour, stirring to coat
- Add bay leaves and fresh thyme, then add the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom and sides
- Bring to a boil, then cover, and place in the oven to cook for another hour and a half to two hours
- Half an hour before the time is up, add the carrots and onions with about a quarter inch of water to a large pan over medium high heat, cover and cook the veggies until just tender and the water is evaporated
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pan, then add in the mushrooms, a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper, and toss everything to coat
- Cook all the veggies until caramelized and the mushrooms are tender, turn off the heat and set aside.
- The stew is finished when the sauce has reduced and thickened, and the meat is fall-apart tender.
- Remove the bay leaves and leftover thyme springs, then add the veggies to the pot, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garlic Thyme Toasts
- 1 baguette, sliced on an angle
- 1 spring fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- Olive oil
- Preheat broiler
- Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil and toast under the broiler until golden
- Butter, then rub slices with clove of garlic
- Sprinkle with fresh thyme