Rainyday Beef Stew
Summer’s over, god autumn almost is too. There were a few magnificent death throes when a November barbecue sounded genuinely appealing. Today, though, cold rain is pouring and Toronto is miserable. We have two options, slap on a pair of shorts and go running, as though to spit in the face of god and nature, or do as we were meant to, turn up the Towens Van Zandt, preheat the oven to 300° and make some beef stew. Tis the season for root veg and slow-braised beef, embrace it.
This stew’s kind of a riff on Beef Bourguignon, in that it uses a red-wine based broth. Rather than a dry burgundy, however, I use the most unpalatable of Shabbat evening bevvies, Manischewitz Concord Wine. Concord, if you were wondering, is the grape Welch’s use for their grape juice. Manischewitz is, quite literally, alcoholic grape juice and it’s about as sickly-sweet as you’d imagine. Bleh, right? In almost all cases, dear imagined reader, your reaction would be correct. But take two hours to stew some gristly, tough cuts of beef in it and suddenly you’ve spent $6.75 on a bottle of magic.
This was my first attempt with beef shank but I’ve used the fundamental basis of this recipe (onions, beef, Manischewitz, tomato) with brisket, blade, and beef cheek. All worked out quite nicely. Feel free to substitute nearly all the veg and herbs with whatever you feel. I think my next attempt will involve parsnips and sage.
Manischewitz Braised Beef Shank
2 roughly 1lb slices of beef shank
1 and ½ yellow onions, roughly diced
5 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small can of crushed tomatoes
½ bottle of Manischewitz Concord Wine
3 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
1 large handful of cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 package of pre-roasted chestnuts, halved
Salt and Pepper to taste
*NOTE* This is best cooked in a large, ceramic Dutch oven. A cast iron pot or a heavy-bottomed oven safe pot would both do in a pinch.
Preheat your oven to 300°.
Season the beef with salt and pepper, heat vegetable oil in the pot over medium-high heat.
Sear the shanks until both sides begin to brown, remove and set aside.
Add a glug of olive oil and toss in your diced onion, season with a little salt and stir regularly.
In 5 minutes, add the garlic. 5 minutes later add mushrooms and 5 minutes later add the chestnuts and rosemary. Stir throughout.
Once the veggies begin to look cooked add half a bottle of Manischewitz and your can of crushed tomato.
Add the shanks and make sure they’re covered in liquid.
Bring the whole mixture to a boil on high heat and, once boiling, cover the pot and place it in the oven for at least two hours
After about an hour, taste the broth and season to taste
After another hour, everything should be ready if you have more time though, let it sit for longer
Serve with mashed potatoes.
Don’t fight the slow descent into winter. Braise beef, accept weather, and keep warm.