In most of the US it was a long hot summer. In California we’re in that dangerous spot where the hills are dry and the rains are too far off in the distance to help. Some years we get rain early enough and we avoid a desperate fall trying to fend off forest fires. Some falls we don’t, leaving us with a season of fire-related heartbreak. My family has been touched by wildfire too many times. It’s led us to embrace our local fire station – an effort that has brought great joy to all of us. All of this is a long way of saying that by the end of summer I’m actively longing for fall. I want the rains to come, bringing precious relief to the dry American West. I want cool evenings that call out for stews and soups and comfort food. Here’s my latest go-to stew. I love the smoky taste of fire-roasted bell peppers, and the earthy richness of sundried tomatoes. I’ve been using the two tastes in salad dressings and sauces – and they are a logical additional to a traditional beef stew. Enjoy – and may the rains come!
Beef Stew with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers (six servings)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups onions, diced
- 2 leeks, washed carefully, sliced lengthwise and then chopped
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 3 lbs. beef stew meat (I used Premium Black Angus Steak Tips from TJ’s)
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 cups beef or chicken broth
- One 12-oz jar fire roasted red bell peppers, drained
- One 8.5-oz oil packed sun dried tomatoes
- 10-oz sliced crimini mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and leeks and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 10-12 minutes.
In a mixing bowl toss together the flour, one teaspoon salt and white pepper. Add the chopped meat and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon remove the meat from the mixing bowl. Add to the leek/onion mixture. Sauté over medium heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth. Continue cooking over medium heat.
Place the drained fire roasted bell peppers in a blender. Process until smooth. Add to the stew. Place the sundried tomatoes in the blender. Process until a paste forms. Add to the stew. Add the mushrooms and the final two teaspoons of salt, the sugar, paprika, chili powder and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer on the stovetop, uncovered for 2 hours. Check for salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over a piece of rustic bread toasted, or wide flat noodles. Garnish with sour cream or Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh chives.