I'll be honest, August is my absolute least favorite month of the year. I look at August as simply being a miserably hot 31-day barrier to autumn. Yes, I know autumn doesn't start until the end of September, but once I'm in the month of September, things just feel better to me.
So, because September starts next week, I've decided that summer is officially over and that I'm going to enjoy a big pot of Sunday stew and that's that. Tonight, I made a beautiful beef stew and I did NOT skimp on the mushrooms. This stew is loaded with four different types of mushrooms, with each variety cut differently to add a bit of textural contrast to the dish.
This meal is definitely slow-ish cooking, but you can basically set it and forget it and spend an hour day-dreaming about the colors of autumn, the smells of autumn, the autumn weather, and any other autumn-related things you want to dream about.
This meal may look like a lot going on, but it's honestly a cinch to make, trust me!
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 2 hours (1 hour inactive)
MUSHROOM BEEF STEW
2 pounds chuck roast
1 large onion
Approximately 4 cups of mushrooms (any variety you like; I used cremini, baby bella, oyster, and shiitake)
3 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef or mushroom stock (or a mixture of both)
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
5 sprigs thyme
1 sheet of cheesecloth and a long piece of kitchen twine
2 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound yellow fingerling potatoes (or baby Yukon gold potatoes)
3 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or more, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare Ingredients: Cut the chuck into bite-size cubes, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Cut up the mushrooms in whatever way you like. Finely chop the onion. Warm the stock in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Note: I recommend cutting each variety of mushroom differently. For instance, large white mushrooms can be quartered, baby bella mushrooms can be sliced, small shiitake caps can be left whole (stems discarded) or sliced if the caps are large. If using oyster or maitake mushrooms, you can simply tear them into smaller pieces so as to keep the organic shape.
Make the Bouquet Garni: Wrap the 4 sprigs rosemary and 5 sprigs of thyme in one layer of cheesecloth and tie together at the end with the kitchen twine, leaving 12 or so inches of string at the end to tie to the top of the skillet lid.
Brown the Beef: In a large pot (at least 4-quarts), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high. Add the beef and brown for 5-6 minutes per side, until each piece has a nice brown crust. Brown in batches so as to avoid over-crowding the pot. Transfer all the beef to a bowl.
Make the Stew Base: Add the chopped onion to the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring regularly, for 15-20 minutes over medium high heat. Note: The mushrooms will create quite a bit of liquid. You need to cook them until all the liquid in the pot has cooked off. This takes time! Cook, stirring regularly for as long as it takes for the liquid to be absorbed and for the mushrooms to begin browning around the edges. It took me about 20 minutes.
Once all the liquid in the pot has cooked off, add the three tablespoons of flour. Stir to incorporate all the flour and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Begin adding the warm stock, a few ladles at a time, whisking after each incorporation to ensure the broth is smooth and not lumpy. Once all the stock has been added, add the one cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the beef. Stir in the bay leaves and add the bouquet garni and loosely tie the long part of the kitchen twine to the lid of your pot. Reduce heat and simmer over very low heat for at least 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. Cook until the beef is very tender and falling apart and the broth is thick.
Make the Brown-Butter Potatoes: During the last 20 minutes of the stew cooking, prepare the potatoes. Cut the potatoes in half length wise and transfer to a pot. Cover with water and boil for 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain. While the potatoes are cooking, remove the rosemary leaves from the stems and the thyme leaves from the stem. Mince the leaves and discard the stems. Mince the garlic.
Brown the Butter: Add the butter to a skillet over medium low heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes or until the butter begins to darken. Once the butter begins to develop a nutty aroma, remove from heat and stir. Note: You may wish to strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve to remove the sediments or keep them! I kept them in the skillet.
Add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the butter in the skillet and cook over low heat until fragrant. Stir in the potatoes and toss to coat. Using a potato masher, gently mash the potatoes. Stir in the cream and continue mashing to your desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Finish the Stew: Remove and discard the bay leaves and bouquet garni from the stew. If the broth seems too thin, you may wish to turn the heat to medium high and cook for 5-10 minutes to reduce it a bit. Remove from heat.
To Serve: Divide the potatoes between bowls and serve the stew on top. Enjoy!
Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!