Lively Beef Stew with Root Vegetables

Hearty, rich, comfort food, belly warming – these are all descriptors for beef stew. It is the ideal fall dish and warms up the whole house while the fragrant aroma envelops your senses.

It is always better to buy a particular cut of meat from the butcher rather than just stewing beef because meat cooks differently depending on which area of the animal it comes from. For this recipe I used brisket, which I bought from the butcher and then had him cube for me. It makes a succulent stew. The sweetness in the dish comes from the carrots and rutabaga as well as the honey. You could add other roots such as parsnips, yellow beets or even potatoes. A touch of chile de arbol is a wonderful seasoning, particularly when there is some sweetness in the dish. It has more depth of flavour than cayenne, making it my first choice when I want to spice up a stew.

The reason for removing the lid in the last half hour of cooking is to allow the sauce to reduce a little more, intensifying its flavour.

Ready time: 4 hours
Servings: 4 to 6

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground chile de arbol or cayenne

2 pounds (1 kilogram) stewing beef cut from the brisket in 1 ½-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed

1 pound (500 grams) carrots, cut on a sharp diagonal to ¼-inch thickness

1 pound (500 grams) rutabaga, peeled and cut on a sharp diagonal to ¹/8-inch thickness

2 cups chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

½ cup red wine

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 cups beef or chicken stock

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 300 F. Combine coriander, ginger, cinnamon and chile de arbol. Toss with beef. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in heavy ovenproof pot over high heat. Working in batches, add beef and brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes in total. Remove from pot and reserve.

Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon of oil if needed. Add carrots and rutabaga and sauté until tinged with brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from pot and reserve.

Stir in onion, adding more oil if needed, and sauté for 4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Pour in red wine and sherry vinegar. Bring to boil and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Add stock, thyme and bay leaf. Return meat to pot and bring back to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake for 2 hours then stir in carrots, rutabaga and honey. Cover again and return to oven for 1 more hour or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. Remove lid and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.