It is definitely Autumn here in Queensland, the ground carpeted with crunchy leaves and drifts of white feathers from our molting Muscovy ducks.
The cool weather plants are flourishing – hollyhocks, marigolds, calendula – and although the herbs are trying to flower and go to sleep for the winter, I nip the blossoms so they keep producing for a while longer. I want to have fresh basil, mint, and parsley for as long as possible.
This week it was stew, a hearty, beefy, savory stew rich with ham, spiced with smoked paprika, and laced with dark port wine. After our first tastes Bear and I looked at each with wide eyes, declaring it, hands down, the best stew I’ve ever made. Just what we need as the nights turn cool and we get cozy over episodes of Murdoch, Psych, or Person of Interest.
Port Wine Beef Stew
2 Tbsp bacon fat or olive oil
2 onions, peeled, cored and diced
1 head garlic, peeled, trimmed and sliced
3/4 cup diced ham or bacon
3-4 cups cubed stew meat
2-3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup port wine
4-5 carrots, trimmed, peeled and sliced
5 potatoes, cubed
small handful fresh parsley, chopped
small handful fresh thyme, leaves removed from stalk
3-4 cups beef stock
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Heat bacon fat or olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and fry 3-5 minutes until they begin to caramelize. Add ham and stir.
- While ham cooks, place stew meat, flour, paprika, sea salt and pepper in large bowl and toss gently to coat.
- Add stew meat to frying pan and fry until outsides are beautifully browned.
- Scrape everything into slow cooker and deglaze the pan with port wine. Scrape wine and pan bits into slow cooker.
- Add carrots, potatoes, parsley and thyme and stir to combine.
- Pour over enough stock to barely cover, add Worcestershire sauce, stir gently to combine.
- Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours until vegetables are cooked and meat is tender.
- Serve with fresh bread or a green salad.