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Stews are one of my favorite meals to prepare for several reasons: 1) they are great to make ahead, 2) they work summer and winter and 3) once everything is in the pot they cook themselves and I can
take a snooze do other important things.
The beef stew I made here is spiced with delicious half-sharp Hungarian paprika and flavored with red wine, tomato paste, onion, garlic, a bay leaf and peppers. And here is my special twist: I don’t like to cook vegetables to mush so I roasted the peppers (a bunch of serranos and some small sweet peppers) in the oven separately and stirred them into the stew once it was done cooking. That had the added benefit of preserving the peppers’ pretty color and shape for visual appeal (always important). I suggest you serve the stew with mashed potatoes but if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making them a good, crusty bread will work as well.
- vegetable oil
- a 2½ to 3-pound chuck roast, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika (I used Penzeys Hungarian paprika, half-sharp)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1½ cups dry red wine
- 2½ cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 serrano peppers
- 6 small sweet peppers
- 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.
- In a Dutch oven, brown the meat in a little vegetable oil on all sides. Sear the meat well but watch out not to burn it. (Do this step in batches, if you crowd the pot the meat will just steam and not brown).
- Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the onion to the pot and cook until translucent. (Add more oil if needed).
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add paprika and tomato paste and stir around for a few seconds until combined with the onion and garlic.
- Add wine, chicken broth and bay leaf and stir to bring all the brown bits in the pot into the liquid.
- Add the meat (and its juices) back into the pot.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, put the lid on and simmer for two hours.
- About 1½ hours in heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove seeds, ribs and stems from all the peppers, cut them into bite-sized pieces, put them on a baking sheet, drizzle them with a little bit of vegetable oil and roast them in the oven until they are tender (10 to 15 minutes). Set aside.
- Dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch in a little bit of water and add to the boiling stew. If the result is not thick enough for your taste, mix up more cornstarch and add.
- Stir the roasted peppers into the stew and serve with mashed potatoes or bread.
Food Photography and Styling: Stews tend to be brown mushes with few attractive features but this one had a glossy surface that looked nice and to bring that out I backlit the photo (with my strobe). I didn’t see any easy way to bring mashed potatoes into the composition here so I went with my alternate serving suggestion of bread and sprinkled a few crumbs about for a more relaxed look. Beer is my number one choice of beverage for a photo, it always adds freshness and gives a beautiful look with the foam on top so I poured a glass and added a few beer-related props as well.
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