If you can cook with fruit jam, you can cook with dried fruits. If you think that broth makes a good stew, wine can make a better stew. This beef stew was made with dried apricot halves and red wine. No water, no broth. So good, I had two servings.
I cooked the stew in the oven to minimize evaporation. You can cook it on the stovetop but you might have to add broth, little by little, if the liquid evaporates faster than the beef can cook.
First, let me tell you about the apricots. One of my readers, Emy, is in the country for a vacation and the bag of dried apricots was only one of the many wonderful things she gifted me and my family with. I met her last weekend (in the photo below, Emy on the left, me on the right). I wish we could have had more time to chat but that’s life.
Thank you, Emy. Speedy loves the pistachio, I won’t be able to make ice cream out of the nuts because they all went happily into Speedy’s tummy. The girls have already divided the T-shirts between them and you’ll see the china plates in the food photos soon. Again, thank you, and it was lovely meeting you.
Now, about the stew… and note that this is an updated version of the recipe.
Start with stewing beef cut into cubes. Season them, toss them in flour then brown in fat. I like a mixture of butter and olive oil.
Next, the flavor base. In this case, onions and celery. And a bit of garlic.
When the onions are soft, add the beef. Pour in the wine. Lots of red wine.
Then, throw in the dried apricots.
Stir. Boil uncovered for about 10 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate so that only the richness of the wine minus the bitterness of the alcohol is left.
Season. Add tarragon. Lower the heat. Cover. Simmer. Until the beef is ultra tender.
Tender meat, sweet-tangy sauce, slightly chewy apricots… It’s delicious.
- 700 to 800 grams of stewing beef (short ribs, brisket, crest... any of them will be good)
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 and ½ cups red wine (cabernet sauvignon or merlot)
- beef broth, as needed
- 1 cup dried apricots (cut into halves if large)
- sprigs of fresh tarragon
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Cut the beef into two-inch cubes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place in a resealable bag, add the flour and shake thoroughly to coat each piece well.
- Heat the butter and olive oil.
- Brown the meat on all sides. Scoop out.
- Pour off the oil until only about two tablespoonfuls remain. DO NOT scrape off the browned bits.
- Reheat the oil. Saute the garlic, onion and celery, scraping the bottom lightly but thoroughly to get the browned bits to mix with the vegetables.
- Return the browned beef to the pot. Pour in the wine. Boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by a quarter.
- Throw in the apricots. Stir.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the tarragon sprigs. Cover the pot tightly, transfer to the oven and cook for two hours or longer until the beef is tender.
- Taste the stew and adjust the seasonings before serving.