Balsamic Beef Stew with Roasted Carrots and Black Radishes
Updated: Jun 22, 2022
There's nothing like a hearty beef stew on a cold winter day, and there aren't many stews that haven't warmed my soul. It's really hard to go wrong, but it's equally hard to go right. Call me fussy (you wouldn't be the first) but I like my beef stew vegetables to still taste like vegetables and I want my stew to be very beefy. To get there I usually roast the vegetables and stew the beef separately and then combine them in the bowl.
For this to work I make the stew extra hearty and make sure that there is something tying the two together. In this one it's the balsamic - the vegetables are roasted in two different balsamic vinegars, and after browning the beef, the pan is deglazed with balsamic, rather than the traditional red wine (you might have noticed, I rarely cook with alcohol). I'm also heavier on the beef stock than most recipes I've seen, and I use black radishes instead of potatoes for a little horseradish kick. This to me is the most savory beef stew you'll get, and that savory-ness actually needs the vegetables to be sweeter and spicier to offset the richness of the stew. It's fussy, but how warm do you want your soul to be?
3 Tbs. olive or vegetable oil; more as needed
3 lb. boneless beef chuck (try to find a roast with as much marbling as possible and cut it into chunks)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour (I used gluten free)
2 medium onions, wedged
3 large whole garlic cloves, smashed with the flat of the knife
2 bay leaves
1/2 sweet balsamic vinegar (I and Bon Appetit both recommend Roland Diamond)
4 cups home made or very good store bought beef broth (I use Brodo)
2-3 cups roasted carrots (see recipe here)
1-2 cups roasted black radishes (see recipe here)
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. If you haven't already roasted the vegetables, you can roast them together in the oven while you prep the rest of the stew but reduce the oven to 325 immediately after, leaving it cracked open for a minute so that it cools quickly.
Combine the flour with salt to taste and a few grinds of pepper. Working in batches, roll the beef in the flour combination and then brown the cubes in a dutch oven (or a high sided pan that has a lid) over a medium-high heat until browned on all sides. When finished, add another splash of oil and brown the onion wedges on both sides until they caramelize on the bottom and otherwise have turned a little golden and are somewhat translucent. Toast the smashed garlic on both sides in the same pan but watch carefully and remove as soon as they look a bit caramel (burned garlic = bitter meal). Remove the onion and then add the balsamic and a splash of broth and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer for about a minute then add the remaining broth and bay leaves and stir, tasting and adjusting for salt.
When the liquid tastes about right, arrange the beef, onion wedges, and garlic cloves in the pan. If the juices do not cover the beef, add a bit of water or more broth if you have it until the beef is covered. Cover the whole top of the pan with a piece of parchment paper or foil, laying it directly on top of the mixture and pressing down around the edges so it seals in the moisture, then put the lid on and put the pot in the oven.
After about 2 hours, start checking the meat. You don't want to overcook or it will dry out the meat, and you don't want to undercook or the meat will be tough. When the meat is just falling apart, remove from the oven.
Warm the roasted vegetables either in the microwave or in the oven. Put a spoonful or two of each vegetable at the bottom of your bowl (or all of them if you are using a serving bowl) and then spoon the stew on top.