Recipe Project #101: Braised Beef Stew with Orange & Anise

It occurs to me that I should clear out some of the backlog of cold-weather recipes that I have sitting in the to-blog que. We’ve still got a few cold snaps coming up, but probably not so many. I made this beef stew weeks ago after we came across it via the Today Show, cooking it up one weekend afternoon while coaching a very smart grad student through the final stages of his exams proposals. It’s a keeper, and as I told him, I’ll probably always think of it as M’s Exams Stew.

Curtis Stone’s Braised Beef Stew:

2 1/4 pounds tri-tip beef roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 onions, each cut into 8 pieces
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 large sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 cups beef stock
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 orange peel strips (each about 3 x 1-inch), white pith removed
2 whole star anise
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (I omitted)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Accompaniment: Steamed jasmine rice or warm crusty bread

Heat a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Meanwhile, season the beef with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the hot pot, then working in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, add the beef chunks so that they are in a single layer. Cook until the beef is brown, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a bowl as it is browned.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the same pot. Add the onions, rosemary, and thyme and stir to coat with the oil. Stir in the garlic. Cook until fragrant and the onions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and tomatoes, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Return the beef and accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot. Stir in the stock. The beef should be just covered with the cooking liquid.

Bring the cooking liquid to a gentle simmer, then decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and cook, simmering very gently and stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours. Gently fold in the parsnips, carrots, orange peels, and star anise. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Fold in the turnips. Cover and continue simmering until the vegetables are tender and the beef is tender enough to cut with a spoon, about 45 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef and vegetables to a bowl.

Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Gently fold the beef and vegetables into the reduced cooking liquid (they will be tender so avoid stirring them) and simmer just until they are heated through, about 3 minutes. Spoon the beef stew into 4 to 6 serving bowls. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with rice or bread.

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