This isn’t exactly seasonally-inspired cuisine (since this is very much a winter-esque dish), but I’m not running a restaurant here, so get over it! :)
Seriously though, a great amount of thought goes into these pairings (and indeed everything I put on this site). I want people to enjoy them, relate to them, read the whole-thing through to the end and possibly even make them in their in home. My rule-of-thumb is that if I personally wouldn’t want to take the time to read about it, I won’t feature it. Simple.
On the other hand, sometimes it just comes down to the fact that I’m just a guy that knows a little about wine, making a recipe for dinner that night, pairing it with a wine and posting the “evidence”.
Sometimes I read similar-type articles online, and they almost scream: “Look how sophisticated and culinary superior I am!!! Aren’t you jealous of the food that I eat on a regular basis!?!?”
I just don’t want you to think that’s my intention, and that’s the main reason why I’m posting this recipe. It’s a little-more “down-to-earth” than some of my usual pairing features.
Kind of a random pre-ample I know, but it’s just something I wanted to “throw out there”…
I used flank steak for this particular stew recipe, but that doesn’t mean you have it. You could quite as easily get away with stewing steak. If you do choose a flank steak, a sharp knife will be your best friend!
Wow! That doesn’t look very appetizing, now does it!
After cooking the steak off for this stew it will no doubt give it, what I like to refer to as a very “English-look” i.e. gray and tough. But that’s stewed red meat for you!
Ahhhhh…that’s MUCH better!
The reason I’m showing you these before and after photos is: Have you ever made a recipe and wondered why it didn’t turn out like the image? Well, most of the time the reason is Photoshop!
I thought I’d put your mind at ease!
Everyone (if they follow a recipe closely enough) can make food fit for a magazine cover. What you probably can’t do is “Photoshop-the-arse-out-of-it” to make it appear more appetizing than it actually is! Just a little insider secret that I’ve seen very few other food/wine websites share…
I simply refuse to believe people when they say they can’t cook. It’s just laziness. Everyone can cook, if all it takes is following a recipe. I just don’t want everyone to be disheartened when all magazines/websites like Food and Wine are doing is bumping up the vibrancy, adding creative blurring and a plethora of other techniques to make you feel like your culinary skills are inadequate.
Very rarely do I use dried herbs in recipes. It’s one of those things that I think you shouldn’t compromise on. Fresh herbs make the world of difference, and the right wine choice will really pickup on those flavors.
Now I know what you might be thinking: “How can he tell me to use fresh herbs, and then say it’s ok to use frozen peas and carrots in a bag!?!?”
My excuse is that it usually isn’t ok, but in this case we’re making a stew, and we’re going to be cooking down the veg so much that fresh and organic produce would have been a complete waste of time.
I consider this recipe very “peasant French” in theme and so it could have been quite as easily been paired with a Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire or Languedoc red. I settled for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape as I’ve been hanging onto it for about 6 months (that’s a long time in my wine cellar), until I could finally find a good meal to pair it with
Domaine La Barroche has been my go-to CdP for the past few years, usually for when I’m trying to convert the uninitiated as to the potential merits of reds from the Southern Rhone.
What I like about this wine is that it stays true to the region from which it hails, whilst timidly stepping foot into the New World, if you catch my drift. The secondary “funky” earthy/savory flavors are certainly there, but they’re hiding behind the fruit. This tells me that the winery is doing everything they can for American drinkers to fall in love with it (since they tend to skew more towards fruit)!
With a blend of Grenache (64%) with Mourvedre (17%), Syrah (11%) and Cinsault (8%) which is typical for Chateauneuf, the Domaine La Barroche showed cassis, ripe blackcurrant, green olives, wild red fruits, dried herbs, cracked black pepper, all mixed in with “meaty” and leathery flavors. Hangs around for quite a while on the finish. Still fairly young, so you could quite easily lay this one down for a few years.
If you’re thinking of serving immediately, just make sure you decant/aerate beforehand. Average retail is around $60.
Recipe for Beef Stew with Belgian-Style Pale Ale
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 pounds beef (in whatever form you choose that you deem to be appropriate for stewing), cut into 4-by-1-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Two 12-ounce bottles pale ale
1.5 cups baby carrots
1.5 cup frozen peas
4 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
5 thyme sprigs
2 teaspoons pureed garlic
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
(Don’t be afraid to experiment with this one and add you own ingredients, such as herbs and spices. Also, make sure you are very diligent about seasoning the stew once you start coming to the end of the method. It’s going to need it!)
- In a large stewing pot, combine the butter and olive oil and heat until sizzling.
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the casserole and cook over high heat until lightly browned. Remove the meat, and transfer to a large plate.
- Add the onion to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned. Sprinkle-in the flour and stir well. Stir in the pale ale, bay leaves, and garlic. Add the chicken stock and thyme and return the beef to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Bring the stew to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat (stirring every 10 minutes), for around 1 hour.
- Add the carrots, cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Add the peas and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.