You do need a cut with
some fat in it for this to work; a lean cut would taste dry after the long
cooking period. Fortunately, the less expensive pieces are often the best.
Chuck and rump roast cuts are generally ideal, though my last batch was
delicious with a marbled sirloin tip.
A note on the spices:
freshly ground spices are more intense and aromatic than ones that have been
ground some time ago. I use a coffee grinder reserved just for spices (so I
don't end up drinking spiced coffee). Also, it recently occurred to me that I
could put bay leaves into the grinder, instead of letting them float around the
stew and having to fish them out at the end. It works really well here. (Read more about intensifying flavors in this Interruption on Layering)
A note on the spices: freshly ground spices are more intense and aromatic than ones that have been ground some time ago. I use a coffee grinder reserved just for spices (so I don't end up drinking spiced coffee). Also, it recently occurred to me that I could put bay leaves into the grinder, instead of letting them float around the stew and having to fish them out at the end. It works really well here. (Read more about intensifying flavors in this Interruption on Layering)
Preparation time: about 50 minutes, total
Cooking time: 5-7 hours
1 teaspoon black
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
10 allspice berries
10 juniper berries
3 bay leaves
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 pounds of well-marbled beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons grape seed oil
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 bottle or more of dry red wine
1 smallish onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chopped tomatoes, in their juice
1 large sprig of fresh thyme
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 carrots or parsnips, cut into large chunks (but small enough to fit into a mouth)
2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
3 turnips, cut into large chunks
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Grind peppercorns, allspice, juniper berries, cloves, and bay leaves to a fine powder. Blend with ground nutmeg and salt in a small dish. Set aside.
2. Heat a deep skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil (this combination has a higher smoke point than just olive oil, but retains the nice aroma of olive oil).
3. In the minute or so that the oil heats up, season on all sides only the beef that will be seared in the first batch (about a third of the beef cubes; if salted meat sits for a while before being seared, it will start releasing water and won't brown as well). When the oil is hot, add the seasoned beef to the skillet, making sure the pan is not crowded.
4. Sear the beef on all sides, adjusting the heat as necessary. When beef is nicely browned, remove the pieces and set them aside in your slow cooker pot. If the bottom of the skillet has very dark bits, deglaze with wine and add the liquid to the browned meat. Continue seasoning and searing the other batches of meat. Deglaze the skillet with wine.5. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and add the carrots, onions, and celery, along with a good pinch of the seasoned salt. After the first minute or two, add the garlic.
6. Stir in tomato paste and cook for about a minute. Add 1 cup of the chopped tomatoes and juice. Bring to a simmer. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker over the beef. Add enough wine to cover the beef at least halfway. Add the sprig of thyme. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-7 hours, or until beef is fork tender. In the last hour or two of cooking, add the rest of the vegetables. And finally, in the last hour, add the rest of the chopped tomatoes and sauce.
7. Remove thyme sprig and garnish with parsley. Serve over rice or egg noodles, or simply with some crusty bread and butter.Print Friendly