Braised Beef

I love making braised beef in the winter because it’s the perfect comfort food for a cold day.  It takes a little effort to get all the ingredients ready for braising, but once it goes into the oven, you can leave it there for hours.  Sometimes I cook it in the crockpot all day.  You can sear the beef and cut your veggies the night before, then throw them in the pan the next day for its braising goodness.  Any leftovers can be easily frozen for a later use.  It’s great on a toasted sandwich too!

2 tbsp. Chile powder
Kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 pounds lean stew meat or chuck
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 medium onion, cut into large pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into large pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 12 ounce bottle of root beer
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix together the chile powder, 2 tsp. salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. Coat the meat with mixture. Heat a large ovenproof Dutch oven of high heat. Add canola oil. Working in batches, place the meat in one layer into the pan and sear all sides. Remove meat and continue searing remaining meat. Remove all meat to a separate dish. Add more oil, if necessary, and add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and let cook for up to 20 minutes, or until browned and caramelized. Add wine and let reduce until almost evaporated. Add broth and root beer. Stir, and add meat. Tie the thyme with butcher’s string and place in pan. Bring mixture to a simmer. Cover, and place in oven for 3-4 hours. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly.

Using tongs, remove the large chunks of vegetables (garlic, onion, carrots, and celery). This could take a while, but you only want the meat and juice. Discard the vegetables and remove the meat from the juice and place in a separate bowl while you reduce the juice. Place pan on the stove, uncovered, over high heat. Let juice simmer and reduce by half. Add meat to reduced juice, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If it is too spicy, you can add a little root beer or honey. Serve over cheesy polenta.

MainsEvan Wei-Haas