Easy big beef stew and roasted garlic mashed potatoes

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Brian Lagerstrom’s beef bourguignon recipe that inspired me on this one: https://youtu.be/NaxCIpebhEg

***RECIPE, SERVES EIGHT***

5 pounds thick-cut beef chuck roast (or 4 pounds boneless short ribs)
1 pound carrots
2-3 celery stalks
1 14 oz (400g) bag of frozen peeled pearl onions
5-6 garlic cloves
1/2 oz (14g, two standard packets) unflavored gelatin
red wine (I used about half a bottle)
stock or water (about as much as the wine)
Worcestershire or soy sauce or fish sauce or some such (and/or a couple stock cubes)
tomato paste (buy the stuff in a tube, if you can)
balsamic vinegar
flour (I used about half a cup, 60g)
fresh herbs for garnish (I used the leaves from the celery)
salt
pepper
oil

For the mash…

1 whole head of garlic
5 pounds potatoes (I like a mixture of floury and waxy)
butter (I used a whole pound / 454g, but you could use far less)
milk
salt
pepper

Take a deep roasting pan (at least 9×13 in / 23-33 cm), put it in the oven, and turn on the broiler/grill. While the pan heats up, trim as much of the large, white bands of inter-muscular fat out of the chuck as possible. (No need to trim anything if using boneless short ribs.) Cut the meat into very large chunks, keeping in mind they’ll shrink more than half while cooking. Season the meat generously with salt & pepper, and toss it in a thin coating of oil.

Take the hot roasting pan out of the oven and dump in the meat, trying to spread it all into a single layer across the bottom. Put the pan back under the broiler and let the meat brown for about 10 minutes — watch it carefully to make sure nothing burns. Pull the pan out and stir in enough flour to generously coat the meat (I used about half a cup / 60g). Put the pan back under the broiler and let the flour brown for a few minutes. Lay a squeeze or two or tomato paste on top and let that brown for a minute.

Turn off the broiler, take the pan back out, pour in enough wine to come 1/3 of the way up the meat. Pour in enough stock or water so that the liquid comes 2/3 of the way up the meat. Throw in a big glug of Worcestershire or soy sauce or some such, and maybe a couple stock cubes if you used plain water (really not necessary, though). Stir everything up, cover the pan tightly with foil and cook in the oven at 275ºF/135ºC until the meat is almost as soft as you want it, which took me four hours.

For the roasted garlic mash, trim the tips off of all the cloves on a head of garlic, coat it in oil, wrap it in foil and put it in the oven with the meat. At such a low temperature, it should take hours to go soft and golden, so put it in soon after you get the meat going.

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While you’re waiting you can peel the carrots (or not) and cut them and the celery into large bite-size chunks, and crush and peel 5-6 garlic cloves.

When the beef is almost as fork-tender as you want it, put the carrots, celery and frozen onions in the pan. Get them spread into an even layer and try to get them stirred in with the beef and sauce, but don’t stir so hard that you break the beef apart. It’s fine if the veg is kinda sitting on top for now. Re-cover the pan with foil, put it back in the oven and cook until the vegetables are as tender as you want them, 1-2 hours.

While you wait, you can peel your potatoes for the mash (I peel floury baking potatoes for mash but I leave the skins of waxy potatoes on), cut them into big chunks and boil them until you can very easily pierce them with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain out the water, and combine the potatoes in the still-hot pot with the butter, a bunch of pepper, a little splash of milk to start with, and a big pinch of salt to start with. Take the roasted garlic bulb and squeeze its golden guts into the potatoes. Mash or whip the potatoes until they’re as smooth as you want them and then taste. Add more salt if needed, and stir in enough additional milk to get you the texture you want, keeping in mind it will stiffen as it cools to eating temperature. Cover and keep warm on a low burner until dinner.

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Empty the gelatin packets into a little cup or bowl and stir in just enough cold water to get it dissolved — it’ll thicken up (bloom) rapidly.

Take the roasting pan out of the oven when the vegetables are as soft as you want them. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper if needed (it should taste a little too salty on its own). I like to add a glug of balsamic vinegar at this point. Drop the bloomed gelatin into the pan in dollops. Use a spatula to gently fold all the ingredients together without breaking up the soft beef chunks. It’s ok if the sauce isn’t totally homogenous yet.

Put the pan back in the oven uncovered, turn on the broiler and brown the top, which took me 10 minutes. Serve the stew over mash, spoon over extra sauce and garnish with herbs.

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