I love serving comfort food to guests and this is actually a wonderful dish for entertaining because you prepare it and then let it stew in the oven for two hours, giving you time to get yourself and your house looking fabulous. It can even be made a day ahead if necessary.
adapted from Parker's Beef Stew by Ina Garten
2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes*
1 bottle red wine (750-ml)
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
6 ounces bacon, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
Ground black pepper
3 yellow onions, chopped
6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
5 medium potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can beef stock (14 1/2-ounce)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce package) frozen peas
1 large branch fresh rosemary
The day before making the stew, place the beef in a bowl with the red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Chop the potatoes, carrots and onions and set aside.
Brown the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large, oven proof Dutch oven.
Meanwhile, remove the bay leaves and garlic from the marinade and discard. Pour the marinade into a large measuring cup or bowl (you should have 3 cups) and set aside. Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in a small bowl. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess.
Next, brown the beef in batches over medium high heat in the same saute pan with the hot oil from the bacon. Cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Continue to brown the remaining beef, adding some olive oil if necessary. Place all the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same saute pan and add the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef.
Add the reserved marinade to the saute pan and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove.
Add the branch of Rosemary to the top of the stew. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking.
Remove the stew from the oven, discard the rosemary and then whisk 2 tablespoons of flour and one cup of sauce together. Pour the sauce/flour mixture back into the stew and simmer for three minutes, until thickened. Stir in the frozen peas, check seasonings, and serve hot.
* This is not the same as stew meat, which is not as tender and will break apart when cooked for this long.