Real Food for Real Life

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Something delicious came of the wine after all...

Beef Stew with FRe Merlot and Rosemary

We have given up alcohol for Lent and, overall, it hasn't felt like much of a sacrifice (note to self, give up dark chocolate next year).   That said, there are some meals that are perfected with the inclusion of a nice glass of wine, so I thought we'd give "FRe" by Sutter Home a try, picking up the Red Blend and the Merlot. The Red Blend wasn't horrible, but sweeter than we like, and seemed rather thick on the tongue. Fair enough, I bought it without knowing whether it would be dry or sweet.

So we opened the Merlot.  Merlot is supposed to be a medium bodied DRY red, so this should have been the one. WRONG. It tasted similar, but yet worse, than the blend. Ben called it bad Welsh's.   Now what to do with these $8 bottles of bad Welsh's?
The Red Blend was doled out in small amounts to flavor clear soda.  Not a bad use, although an expensive way to flavor soda.  The Merlot went into a rich and delicious beef stew.  I have made beef dishes before with pomegranate juice, so I figured  this would not be too  far a stretch.  The ample use of garlic, rosemary, and black pepper counterbalanced the sweetness perfectly.  I will certainly make this again, although I'll probably forgo the $8 FRe and "settle" for a $3 bottle of POM.  Be sure to serve this with a crusty loaf to sop up all the goodness; I served a rosemary focaccia.  Perfect!

Beef Stew with FRe Merlot and Rosemary
1 1/4  lb. lean beef stew meat
2 T olive oil
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 medium onion, large dice
8 oz baby carrots
12 oz mushrooms, wiped and sliced thick (I used small portobellos)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t dried rosemary, crushed
1 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups FRe Merlot (or Red Blend, or POM)
1 cup beef stock
1 T cornstarch

Heat the olive oil a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium high heat; generously season the beef with salt and pepper, removing any particularly fatty looking pieces.  When the pan is hot, sear the beef in batches, removing to a small bowl as each batch becomes nice and caramelized.  You should be developing a nice and caramelized pan bottom, too.  Flavor. flavor, flavor.

 When the beef is done, add the onions to the pan and cook just until they begin to color.  Add the carrots, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves; cook another minute or two, until fragrant.  Add about half the wine and deglaze the pan, scrapping up all the brown bits.  Add the reserved beef with any accumulated juices, the remaining wine, and the beef stock.  The amounts of wine (or juice) and beef stock can vary a bit depending on what you have, and how much you need to come almost to the surface of, but not covering the veg and beef.  Bring to a bowl, cover with a well-fitting lib, and place in a 350 degree oven for one hour (or simmer on the stove top if you prefer). 

After an hour, check that the beef is tender, if not, continue cooking a while longer.  Once tender, taste the cooking liquid for seasoning and adjust as needed; I added more salt and MUCH more pepper at this point.  Dissolve the cornstarch in a small amount of water to make a slurry and stir into the pan.  Cover and return to the heat for 15 minutes to thicken.  Serve.  Eat.  Smile.

WW PointsPlus Values:  11 points if serving 4 for dinner, or 7 points if serving 6 for lunch.


  1. I like this recipe! A touch of Merlot is perfect!

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