With winter in full swing, hearty, comforting meals are a necessity. And what's more hearty and comforting than beef stew? No matter if it's made with plenty of red wine, or rich with gravy and veggies -- as long as it features tender chunks of meat that render a knife irrelevant, we're happy.
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The brandy politely waiting for the prunes to be measured so it can macerate them.
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Nicely marbled beef cubes.
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Merrill seasons the beef with salt and pepper, and then we let it sit at room temperature until we were done chopping.
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As we were reminded, stews involve a lot of chopping up front, and then a whole lot of nothing once they start simmering. We discovered that we're good at filling up the nothing time with YouTube clips of Lady Gaga.
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This, friends, is licorice root. A thicker twig than usual. Scratch 'n sniff -- you'll get a spicy licorice aroma.
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Merrill coats the beef in flour. Butter melts in the Dutch oven.
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The flour dusting on the meat is perfect -- thanks Merrill! -- it's light and not at all clumpy.
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It developed a good nut-brown crust, just as we'd hoped.
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If your last batch of meat doesn't cover the base of the pan, it's a good idea to add the vegetables to the other half of the pan so the butter doesn't burn.
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In goes lush balsamic vinegar.
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Then macerated prunes and rosemary.
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Starting to look great and it hasn't even begun stewing!
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Amanda has some technical difficulties opening the malt beer. Also, don't you love that brand name?
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We don't know *what* is going on here -- and we hadn't even drunk any of the beer yet.
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Beef in a beer bath.
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Two hours later, spooning out the beef, prunes and vegetables.
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Straining the broth, which is a rich, glossy brown.
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Separating the beef, prunes and carrots from the rest of the vegetables, which get a little soggy in the stewing process.
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