Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cooking with Red Wine


Thanks to the generosity of my husband’s co-workers and clients we ended up with quite a surplus of bottles over the holidays. I wonder if that says something about us? So I started to think about what we can create with a 1.5L bottle of red wine instead of just drinking it?

I researched and found you can provide a delicious, inexpensive dinner for 4. Since the weather outside is well below the freezing mark, I decided to use Ina Garten’s recipe for Parker’s Beef Stew and then skim a little wine from that recipe to use on Michele Humes’ Mulled Wine Syrup over blood oranges for dessert. This should leave me with just enough for a couple of glasses to serve with dinner. Now, I wonder what I can do with tequila. --b


Serves 6

2 1/2 pounds good-quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes
1(750 ml bottle) good red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
6 ounces bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
All-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 (14 1/2 ounce can) beef stock
1 large (2 small) branch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (not petits pois)

1.  Place the beef in a bowl with the red wine (I use a good one since it’s an important flavor), whole garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight.

2. The next day, preheat the oven to 300˚F. 

3.  Brown the bacon in a large (12-inch) sauté pan for 5 to 7 minutes, over medium-low heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. In the sauté pan, brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon and continue to brown the remaining beef, placing it all in the Dutch oven.

4. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the  onions to the sauté pan, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven with the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade (discard the rest) to the sauté 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, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring it to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250˚F or 275˚F.

5.  When the stew is done and the meat is tender, whisk 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 cup of the sauce together and pour it back into the stew. Simmer for 3 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

Mulled Wine Syrup
Yields 1 cup

1 bottle red wine
1 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
5 cloves

1. Place all ingredients into a medium pot or skillet (the wider the vessel, the quicker the process) and bring to a boil.

2. Lower to a simmer and reduce until liquid is one-third of its original volume (about 20 minutes). Look for a lightly syrupy consistency--it will thicken further on chilling.

3. Strain to remove spices and transfer to a container to chill. Refrigerated, the syrup will keep indefinitely.

The recipe calls for one bottle of red wine, but it's easily scaled up or down, depending on what's on hand. Experiment with your favorite spices. A version containing star anise and black peppercorns could be used to dress a seared duck breast. Or substitute white wine, and scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean into the pot for a speckled syrup that will go well with stone fruits and sorbets.

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