U.S.A. Merlot beef stew

During the week I had a very enthusiastic wine and food lover stop by to stock up. We got talking and she was kind enough to pass on some excellent recipes to me, including this beef stew recipe. You may notice I’ve gone from metric to imperial measures. Ann is from the good ol’ US of A!

Merlot Beef Stew (serves 6)

All purpose flour
6 tbsp butter
2 lbs cubed stewing beef from the butcher
2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups dry red wine (inexpensive Merlot)
3-4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 1/2 lb of rooster potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1lb button mushrooms
a good handful of frozen green peas
1 tbsp dried marjoram

Start melting 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large pan over medium-high heat. Use a gallon size Ziploc bag – add the flour and pepper/salt. Then add the stew pieces a handful at a time- close the bag and shake. Then remove the meat and dust off the excess. Add the meat to the pan and brown before transferring to a plate.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Mix in tomato paste, then wine. Bring to the boil, scraping the bottom so nothing sticks. Add stock and sugar, then beef and any accumulated juices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

Add potatoes and carrots; simmer uncovered until meat and vegetables are almost tender, about 25 minutes. Add mushrooms, green peas and the marjoram; simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with whatever takes your fancy. Salad and bread would my choice.

The wine match

Let’s cut to the chase. We’re looking for a big and bold red. I matched a South African Pinotage with the last beef stew recipe on this blog. Pinotage makes some amazing wine, and although it can sometimes be on the lighter side it makes plenty of robust styles as well, and the Muddy Water Pinotage would be more along those lines. It’s that earthiness I love.

Take your pick from elsewhere. Chile is where the value lies at the moment, so for the best mid-priced wines the three reds in Santa Alicia’s Gran Reserva range would be where the action is. You might want a less expensive Merlot to cook with, but the Gran Reserva Merlot is certainly not for the cooking pot. Sub €10, the Santa Alicia Carménère brings a herbaceous edge, working well with the vegetables and marjoram, and handling the rich stew sauce beautifully.

For the Old World, we’ll go for something with big acidic bite. The Poggiobello Merlot or the Sirius Bordeaux, like the above, will take this dish to the next level. I could go on forever, but lastly, a monstrous Syrah from the Languedoc and one of our top repeat purchase wines – Dignité Syrah.

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