There's something about adding wine to slow cooking meals that is both comforting and sophisticated. Maybe it's the earthy aroma that over takes the house, I don't know, but whatever it is I find I am drawn to cooking with wine.
The next time you are thinking stew I highly encourage you to try this Chianti Beef Stew; unless of course you are a vegetarian. The beef is cooked for hours in an Italian red wine making it extremely tender and the sauce much more flavorful. Although most stews include potatoes, I much prefer substituting them for a crusty piece of bread for swabbing up the juice.
Chianti Beef Stew
(adapted from Food Network)
2 1/2 to 3 pound beef brisket
1 (750 ml) bottle Chianti wine
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-ounce) piece pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) green olives, chopped
6 ounces green beans, trimmed
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sage leaves
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 loaf crusty Italian bread
Place the meat in a plastic zip lock bag. Pour the wine over the meat and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the meat over and marinate for another 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat from the wine and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the wine.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper. Using tongs, place the meat in the pan and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes each side. Remove the meat and add the remaining oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, olives, green beans, rosemary, and sage. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour the reserved wine, tomatoes, and beef broth into the pan, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the meat to the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender.
Remove the meat, sage and the rosemary sprigs from the stew. Place the meat on a cutting board and cut into quarters. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Add the shredded meat to the stew and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
Serve immediately with Italian bread for dipping.