I had beef that I had floured, browned and simmered until tender, and kept in the freezer. I was really planning on making something fast and simple with it. It turned out we didn’t have any good combination of veggies. But we had sweet peas, carrots and potatoes. For some reason that I still can’t quite explain, I decided to pour in about three quarters of a cup of cabernet sauvignon into the pot. The bottle was already open, it was just lying there on the counter where it would probably stay indefinitely because we opened a new bottle of wine, a Marsala, and it was much better in the mouth than cabernet sauvignon.
So I used the cabernet sauvignon for cooking. And the beef stewed in cabernet sauvignon was so, so good. The color of the sauce turned into a dramatic red that tomato sauce alone can never do. And the flavor… ah, the flavor. I’ve cooked with red wine many times before but not with results as good as this. This beef stewed in cabernet sauvignon is simply the bomb.
I don’t know what happened. I know that cabernet sauvignon is high on tannins and tannins go well with fatty meat, and that’s why when you talk of wine pairing, meat dishes and cabernet sauvignon go together. If you were drinking the wine. But cooking with cabernet sauvignon? It was new to me. I normally drink it, not cook with it.
Now, please, don’t think that I’m getting high-brow with the cooking. I’m not really and this is a very simple recipe. But I’m still starry eyed with how much differently a plain beef stew turned out all because of three quarters of a cup of cabernet sauvignon.
I already said I had already browned the beef and simmered it. Then, I scooped out the beef cubes, placed them in an airtight container and kept them in the fridge where they sat for a couple of days.
Now, I’m willing to concede that if you do all that on the same day that you want to cook the beef stew, there won’t be any problems. The refrigeration part can be omitted.
Why simmer uncovered?
1) To reduce the sauce to avoid a soupy stew.
2) Because you want to get rid of the taste of alcohol. When cooking with wine, all you really want to go into the food is the concentrated flavors that remain after the alcohol has burned away. It is those concentrated flavors that make the stew so delicious.
When cooking with wine which is acidic, you have to avoid using reactive pans like aluminum. I normally use Corningware (which is glass and ceramic) when cooking stews.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan. Add the onion and allow cook gently until softened. Pour in the wine. Boil for about five minutes, uncovered.
Then, add the beef and continue boiling for another five minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes, potato and carrot cubes and sweet peas. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, UNCOVERED for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are done. Remember to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan every five minutes or so.
When the sauce has thickened and reduced, turn off the heat and serve the dish.