It's getting cold, and the season for easy but hearty meals is upon us. This one, as most beef stew recipes are, is better reheated in the days after you make it, so I set it going overnight and packed it in tupperwares when I woke up to have for dinner that night. My main aim for this one was to make it with a shitload of extra broth so that when the beef and veggies absorbed a lot of it, there would still be a good amount left to not have to dilute it with regular store-bought beef broth (yes, I know homemade is better but, unlike with chicken, I rarely have enough beef bones lying around at one time to make stock) to make it as soupy as I like. I barely seasoned it at all because, of the people for whom I made this batch, a few are super-sensitive to saltyness and pepper so rather than try and figure out how much would be good for them, I just left it out and added what I wanted into my own bowl. Your mileage may vary. Also, this recipe calls for both Kosher salt and regular table salt. There really isn't much of a difference between the two aside from the fact that Kosher salt comes in larger flakes and table salt is finely ground. Also, Kosher salt is less likely to contain anti-caking agents and iodine. Bottom line: if you have both, use both; if you don't, just use what you have.
Three 14-ounce cans of beef broth
1 beef broth can of red wine (we used Burgundy, quickly aerated using a Wine Shower, one of the few exceptions to our "No Single-Use Kitchen Gadgets" rule because it was cool-looking, aerating really does make a huge difference, and the blender is a bitch to clean)
3 large carrots (or whatever configuration of big/medium/little ones gets you there)
3 sticks of celery
5 cloves of garlic
5 red potatoes
2 pounds of beef stew meat (whatever cut you prefer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 large onion, diced
a few tablespoons of olive oil
1/4-teaspoon or so of salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
Combine one of the cans of beef broth, an equal amount of wine, 1 large carrot (quartered), 1 stick of celery (also quartered), and 2 smashed cloves of garlic in a pot and simmer until reduced by about 75 percent. This should take about 2 hours or so. Don't worry about stirring it or anything, just let it go and check in on it from time to time to check the heat level and how much it's reduced. Don't worry if it doesn't thicken, it's intended more as a flavor enhancer than a thickening agent in the final stew anyway. Once it's done set it aside.
When your Lazy Fuckers' Demi-Glace is almost done, chop the onion and remaining carrots, celery and garlic. You want about 1/2 inch pieces of carrot and celery, and a fine enough dice on the garlic that it'll dissolve into the broth. Microplane the garlic, if you have one. Combine the flour, Kosher salt, and beef in a ziploc bag and shake it around until all the beef is coated in the flour. The beef will have a tendency to clump together a bit so you'll have to separate it through the bag with your fingers. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pan until shimmering, and brown or sear the beef on all sides. I went light on this step because I wanted the beef to break down easier but if you want it to retain its shape a bit better, sear it a bit more. When it's done, dump it into the slow-cooker with the potatoes, carrots and celery. In the same pan as you cooked the beef, put in another tablespoon or so of olive oil and cook the onions and garlic (seasoned with salt and pepper) until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Dump that into the slow cooker and, if needed, deglaze the pan with beef stock. Pour the stock/fond mix, the rest of the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and the demi-glace into the slow cooker and stir the whole thing until well mixed. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours and forget about it until it's done. At this point, you could dig in if you want, but letting it sit in the fridge and reheating it a day or so later in a pot or microwave lets the flavors marry and some of the broth absorbs more fully into the meat and veggies and makes the whole thing a lot tastier. Whenever you choose to eat it, butter up some good bread for dippin', and enjoy.