Food52's Secret Ingredient Beef Stew

Can You Guess the Secret Ingredient?

GMA Recipes
Servings:Over 8
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: min

A&M: This savory, rich stew may be named after one ingredient, but it's because of a mix of components that it succeeds so well. Tomatoes and tomato paste give it a sunny sweetness, diced veggies lend texture, and red wine and vinegar brighten everything. Anchovies, the "secret ingredient," are briny and buttery, giving the sauce a smooth, complex finish. We recommend using beef with generous marbling for the best results. SmallKitchCara serves this "over buttery, parslied orzo and accompanied by crusty bread."


  • 5 to 51/2 pounds beef stewing meat, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup mixed olive and canola oil
  • 2 leeks, washed well and sliced thinly
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup canned whole tomatoes with juice
  • 3 to 31/2 cups beef broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 /4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • Cooking Directions

    Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over high heat and brown the meat in batches, adding more oil as needed. Remove the meat to a plate.

    Lower the heat and add the leeks, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and the anchovies and cook for 1 or 2 minutes to melt and distribute the anchovies.

    Add the beef and its juices back to the pot. Add the wine, vinegar, and tomatoes with juice (breaking them up against the side of the pot as you go) and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Pour in the broth to cover (you may need a bit more than 3 cups). Add 1 1 /2 teaspoons salt, the bay leaves, and the thyme and bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered, until the meat is tender, 2 to 3 hours. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours.

    When cool, skim off most of the fat from the top. Reheat over low heat, letting the stew simmer for 30 to 45 minutes before serving.

    Mix in half the parsley and garnish with the rest.

    Tips and Techniques

    Make this a day ahead—its flavor will improve and you can enjoy the stew without thinking of all the dishes you have to wash.

    About the Cook

    Cara Eisenpress is the co-author of the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen and the book In the Small Kitchen (her co-author, Phoebe Lapine, or BigGirlPhoebz as we know her at food52, can be found on page 135 with a recipe for Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto). Cara lives in New York City.

    Her favorite recipe from a cookbook: "The dill tofu from Peter Berley's Modern Vegetarian Cookbook."

    What the Community Said

    pierino: "I'm absolutely down with the anchovy part. It adds a bottom flavor that even anchovy haters (like my sister) can't detect. It's one of our secret weapons."

    lastnightsdinner: "I love this. I've been playing with adding things like anchovies and fish sauce to beefy dishes for a few months myself, and it really does boost the meaty flavor!"

    Recipe courtesy the "Food52 Cookbook" and William Morrow.

    Recipe Summary

    Main Ingredients: stew meat, salt, tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, thyme

    Course: Main Course

    More Info: Kid Friendly

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