Making Mahogany Beef Stew With Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce

Okay, I’m not exactly Pioneer Woman (who is my favorite blogger ever and does this recipe thing much better than I), but I’m going to try to share a recipe-photo-shoot with you for the dish I made for my dinner party the other night. It’s Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce, a recipe from that came by way of my book-club friend Lauran. (Hi, Lauran!) She’s made numerous dishes for the book club that I must get the recipe for, and all have become big favorites of my immediate and extended family — This one is no exception.

The reason this one is great for dinner parties is that you can make most of it ahead of time, then just turn the stovetop to simmer right when guests arrive to have it warmed up by dinnertime.

One warning, though. It has a LOT of this:


So you might want to make it for an evening when it’s just the girls. Or, um, you know, when you’re not going to be breathing all over someone.

You’re also going to need one of these:


Because no one could possibly cut all those onions by hand without crying all over the place.

Okay. So start by chopping all your onions. The recipe calls for 3.5 cups of onions, but I was doubling the recipe, so I did nearly 6 cups. (I told you it was a lot.) Pulse those babies and set them aside in a bowl.

Then you want to cut your boneless beef chuck roast into 2.5-inch pieces. You can buy it from a butcher already cut into stew-size portions, which saves a lot of time, but sometimes I cut them even a bit smaller. No one at a dinner party likes to gnaw.

Sizzle your beef until it’s brown on all sides (about 10 minutes); then throw those onions in, and the scent of yummy stew starts to waft through the kitchen.

Now comes the fun part. You want to add one cup of this:


Any Cab will do. Note that the recipe calls for only one cup now, then a second cup later. This is very important. It means you can do a little of this:


Because, you know, cooking is hard work! You need a little beverage! But don’t do too much of that because you’ll have to add more in to the pot later. (And if you’re doubling the recipe, as I was, you can come reeeeeeeeeally close to not having quite enough!) (Not that that’s ever  happened.) (Ever.)

Okay, next you’re going to add 1 can of tomatoes with Italian seasonings. I love canned tomatoes! They taste fabulous and work in so many recipes. It’s one canned vegetable that actually tastes better than fresh to me.


Sorry the picture is getting a little blurry. Must be because of this:


Okay, then you’ll add 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce. This is what gives the stew its sweet taste. You can find hoisin sauce at many Asian markets or in the Asian section of your supermarket. Mine looks like this:


Wow, I just noticed that expiration date says it’s best before May 23, 2012? My son will be in college by then. Huh. Hoisin sauce and college. My mind is drifting. … Okay, back to the recipe. You’ll then need 2 bay leaves:


Are my photos getting more and more crooked? (My wine is almost gone.)

Okay, now if things are going well, your stew should look something like this:


And your counter should look like this:


(And note your wine glass should be almost empty.)

Now it’s time to let everything simmer for 45 minutes while you run upstairs and try to do something with your hair. (Though you need to run back into the kitchen from time to time to “stir occasionally.”) (Or you could make sure you have a teenage daughter so you’ll have someone to rely on in these crucial kitchen moments.)

Then you have to cut the hair-styling short because you need to come back downstairs and cut some carrots.

I didn’t get a good picture of the carrots. In fact, my brother-in-law cut them for me when I was running around trying to do last-minute cleaning and do something with my hair (not simultaneously, thank the Lord). But the carrots should be cut “on the bias,” so they form long oblongs about 1-inch long. Then throw them into the pot with that last cup of wine that you did not just drink (omgdidyoudrinkallthewine maybethere’sanotherbottleofitinthepantry)

Then cover, simmer for another 30 minutes while you really finish your hair.

At the very end (I did this when the guests had already arrived, darn it — I really do try to have it done beforehand), you add some cornstarch to the mixture to thicken, discard the bay leaves, and add salt and pepper.

Then you serve it over rice.

Or, if you want to be very fall-like and make it look like comfort food, you can serve it in bread bowls like I did for the book club. Here’s the finished product:



Here’s the actual recipe:


Hoisin adds complixity to the flavor of the sauce. You can save some time — and some tears — by chopping the onions in the food processor in two batches.

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 bay leaves

1 pound slender carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add meat to pot; saute until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Push meat to sides of pot. Reduce heat to medium; add 2 tablespoons oil to pot. Add onions; saute until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Mix meat into onions. Add 1 cup wine, tomatoes with juices, hoisin sauce, and bay leaves. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and 1 cup wine. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover; increase heat to high; boil until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes longer. Reduce heat to medium, add cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Season stew with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before serving, stirring occasionally.) Transfer stew to large bowl. Sprinkle with parsley; serve.

Makes 6 servings.
Bon Appetit
Entertaining Made Easy

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10 thoughts on “Making Mahogany Beef Stew With Red Wine and Hoisin Sauce

  1. You TEASE!!!!!
    First I have to SMELL this when you make it for your book club and now I have to read it on your wonderful blog!!!!!
    Howsabout you make this for your loving husband; what if I promise to read a book??????

  2. Loved the play by play with photos (especially the glass of wine). I think you’re discriminating though – wouldn’t a son who likes to cook be good those crucial kitchen moments? 🙂

  3. Wow, that’s funny, Lauran; I had exactly the same thought about the girl doing the stirring. In my family, I only had boys to do that–and quite willing, especially if what’s in the pot tastes good!

    But what I wanted to say, Mizwrite, is how much I enjoyed reading this blog. Such fun! And so sorry I missed the book club.

  4. All right, Superman, we DID invite you to the book club! But yes, I’ll make this for the family soon! 🙂

    Lauran and Rosy — Yes, I guess that did sound discriminatory, didn’t it? Reality is, though, it always IS my daughter who comes to the rescue in our house. Despite the fact that his dad and uncle are AWESOME in the kitchen, my son (the 16 yo) runs the other way when he thinks help is needed in the kitchen. My youngest son, however, has some potential! He was dying to learn to make guacamole, so his uncle showed him how, and now he seems interested in learning a few key dishes. I’ll hold out hope …

  5. Fun to read Laurie! I liked the play by play and action photos….wish I would have been able to eat it too, it looks delicious!

  6. Wow, this sounds wonderful. We have some good friends who we share dinner with often, and I think this is going to be what I try the next time they come over. Thanks for sharing — and I love the pictures in the story!

  7. About the expiration date…I will have two kids done with College and my youngest graduating high school that year, weird huh?!

  8. I must say, the house smelled amazing! Something tells me this is the type of stew that would taste better the next day, if you can manage to actually leave leftovers. I think that is easier said than done.

  9. Aunt Helene — Glad you liked the play-by-play! And tell me how it goes if you make it for your friends. It also makes your kitchen smell great!

    Debi — I just can’t believe you will have two kids done with college by then!!! Crazy. How is it we are staying so young, then? 🙂

    David aka Colt McBubby — As you know, in our household, there are rarely any leftovers. But yes, it seems like stews do taste great the next day, huh? Once all the flavors blend … Yum. …

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