Beef Stew . . .with Anchovies over Toasted Tortellini

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Happy New Year!   

I know what you’re thinking.   No, I did NOT drink so much over the past 2 weeks that I’ve completely lost my marbles.  But, hear me out.  I understand why you might be skeptical.  Trust me when I tell you that I’ve learned to appreciate having anchovies in the house for more than just Caesar Salad.  I was browsing a food magazine recently (I couldn’t tell you which one) and in it, I glanced at a Beef Stew recipe that included anchovies.  I often make a practice of cleaning out the pantry, so I thought I might take the leap, and throw some anchovies into some slow simmering beef stew. 

 I’ll be honest – I didn’t expect the rich, non-fishy umami flavour that resulted.  That, and 2 cups of a good Cabernet pushed this stew over the edge into a “will do again”.    I served this over some toasted tortellini, and loved the combination of the crunchy pasta with the richly flavoured beef stew.

Ingredients:

  • vegetable oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 lbs. chuck, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 12 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • Good handful of thyme, leaves picked
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1 tin of anchovies, diced
  • 2 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 cups good quality cabernet sauvignon
  • 2 cups good quality duck, chicken, beef or veal stock (I used 1 each of duck and veal)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, defrosted
  • 16 oz. cheese tortellini
  • parmigiano reggiano for serving

 

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Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Liberally season your meat with salt and pepper.  In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat until it glistens.  Add the beef to the pot in batches until all sides are browned.  Don’t crowd the bottom of the pot; you want nicely seared meat, not steamed meat.  Remove the beef from the pot, place on a plate, and cover with tinfoil.

If needed, add some more oil to the pot and heat it over medium-high heat until it glistens.  Add the onion and bell pepper and stir around a bit to coat the vegetables.  Add some salt and pepper and after about 5-7 minutes, add the carrots and garlic and the thyme and parsley.  Reduce the heat to medium, stir a bit, and cover.  Cook the vegetables for about 15 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.  Scott the vegetables over a bit and add the tomato paste – allowing it to caramelize for a couple of minutes.  Stir everything back together.

Deglaze the pot with the cabernet and add your stock.  Add in the anchovies and season with some salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the stew to a boil. 

Pour the flour into a separate bowl.  Ladle about 1 cup or 2 of the hot broth into the bowl, and beat to combine until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.  Add the flour/broth mixture back into the dutch oven, and stir to combine thoroughly.

Place your heavy pot in the oven, covered for 2 – 2.5 hours until the beef is extremely tender, stirring occasionally.

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Meanwhile, boil enough water to cook the tortellini, and cook according to package directions (usually add to heavily salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes).  Drain the tortellini once they have cooked and allow a few minutes to dry.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and spread the tortellini out in a single layer, grating some parmigiano over the cooked tortellini. 

Remove the stew from the oven, add the thawed peas, and stir through the stew.  

Turn your broiler to HI.  Cook the tortellini until they are browned and slightly crisp, about 5-6 minutes.    Serve the stew over the tortellini immediately, along with some parmigianno and some parsley.

Enjoy!

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