I cook with wine a lot. You can take an easy cooking dish and use a little wine and it makes all the difference in the world. Cooking with wine does not have to be difficult or expensive. I have to say I always have wine in my house. Not just for enjoying a glass of wine, but for the purpose of cooking. Cooking with wine not only adds flavor to your dish it can also act as a tenderizer for your less expensive cuts of meats.
Now I have said it before, I only cook with wines that I will also drink. Please do not cook with cooking wine that they sell at the grocers. It is not the same. For all I care it is darn right terrible. If you think about it, why wouldn’t you cook with wine that you normally drink? If you like the wine on its own there is a good chance you are going to like it in whatever dish you are preparing. Then of course there is the benefit since you are cooking with wine, you must toast yourself and enjoy a glass while you are cooking with.
I am going to go back to what I was saying before, that cooking with wine can act as a tenderizer. Take for instance beef stew. Now for the most part stewing beef is a cheaper cut of meat. Or if you are like me, I’ll by a less expensive roast and cut it up to make stew. Either way the meat is usually tougher and you would not normally just eat it as is. You would normally simmer it in some kind of broth for at least a couple of hours. So why not instead of using only broth use some wine. The wine starts the tenderizing process quicker and adds that extra element of flavor. I can guarantee you that you will be licking your lips.
I know I said if you are going to cook with wine, then be sure it is a wine that you would normally consume. One other factor you want to take into consideration when you are cooking with wine. Make sure you pair your wine up with what you are cooking. What I mean by this is, when you are cooking a stew use a hardier wine. Stew is a very hardy meal so you don’t want to be using a Shiraz. Instead use a Burgundy or a Bordeaux type of wine.
Now I am going to share my beef stew recipe with you. You’ll find out from the quantity of wine I use, why I am talking about cooking with wine today. With stew I do so much on top of the stove and then put it in the oven for the rest of the time. Now you could also do most of the preparation the night before and then put it in a slow cooker for the day. Then finish it off when you get home.
Beef Stew With Red Wine
4lbs Stewing beef nicely trimmed
2-3 Onions Chopped not to small
12-15 Baby Carrots (I use the baby carrots that are ready to use)
1 Large Package Whole Mushrooms quartered
1bottle of red wine
2-4 cups of beef broth
2 bay leafs
3 whole sprigs of thyme
2-3 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
On the stovetop heat up a large heavy Dutch oven type pot to medium heat. Cover the bottom with olive oil and add onions. Cook until golden and softening. While onions are cooking get a plate and cover generously with flour. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lie out your meat and start to coat the meat in the flour. When the onions are soft, remove from the pot. You may have to add some more oil at this point. Place some of the meat in the pot and lightly brown. This is a very important stage in the cooking of the stew. Because of coating the meat with flour and then browning it, there will be a more intense flavor at the end. You will have to do the meat in batches. Do Not over crowd your pot. This will prevent some pieces from getting brown.
After all the meat is browned. Remove from pot. Pour in the bottle of wine. Scraping up all the bits on the bottom of the pot. These bits are pure flavor. Place all the meat, onions, thyme sprigs and bay leaves in the pot. Then add enough beef broth to cover the meat well. Place in a 300° oven for about 2 ½ – 3 hours. While the stew is in the oven, take another pan and heat to medium high heat. Cover with olive oil and add the mushrooms, season with salt. Cook until quite brown.
After stew has been in oven for about 3 hours, take out of the oven and add the mushrooms, carrots and potatoes. You may need to add a bit more beef stock at this point. Check after ½ hour to 45 minutes. If the potatoes are cooked, you are ready to remove from the oven. Place pot on your stove top on a burner heated to medium. Here is the thickening part and just some more flavor. In a small dish take 2tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour. Blend together. Slowly add this in pieces to the simmering stew. This will thicken the stew. I say do this slowly so you get the thickness you want. If it is not thick enough do it again. The ratio is equal parts of butter to flour. Taste to see if you need to further season with salt and pepper.
There you go you have dinner for a couple of nights.