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Published: Sunday, 1/20/2008

Basic Beef Stew with Potatoes, Carrots, Peas

This recipe, adapted from one of cookbook author Pam Anderson's, is about as basic as a beef stew can get. The wine helps tenderize the beef as well as adding flavor; pick a full-bodied wine such as cabernet sauvignon, Cotes du Rhone, zinfandel, shiraz, or Barolo. The stew also can be cooked on the stove. If it suits your schedule, prepare the stew through step 3; refrigerate, covered, for up to three days. Stews are nearly always better the next day.

3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large onions, chopped (about 2 cups)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup red wine

1 14 1/2-ounce can beef broth

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

4 each, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices: carrots, russet potatoes

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add half of the meat. Cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat with remaining meat, adding additional oil if necessary.

Add onions to Dutch oven; cook, stirring, until almost softened, 4-5 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir in flour; cook, stirring, until lightly colored, 1-2 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits. Add beef broth, bay leaves and thyme; heat mixture to a simmer. Add browned meat and any juices; heat to a simmer. Cover; place in the oven; cook until meat is nearly tender, 2-2 1/2 hours.

Add carrots and potatoes; return to oven. Cook until vegetables are tender, 30-45 minutes. Stir in frozen peas; cook 5 minutes. Stir in parsley just before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Per serving: 511 calories, 47 percent of calories from fat, 27 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 37 g protein, 625 mg sodium, 4 g fiber

This stew is inspired by the recipes from Deborah Madison's seminal Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Adding diced cheese at the end is a nod to Nancy Harmon Jenkins, who reminded us in her book, Cucina del Sol, that Sicilians love the way the nibs melt in your mouth as you enjoy your bowl of heaven.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, diced

1 teaspoon each, fresh, minced: thyme, sage

1 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground pepper, dried Italian herb blend

1/2 cup riesling or dry vermouth

2 14 1/2-ounce cans vegetable broth

1 each, diced: parsnip, carrot

1 each, peeled, diced: russet potato, small butternut squash, see note

1/2 cup each: wild rice, diced green beans

1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup chopped cremini or button mushrooms

1/2 cup each: chopped baby spinach, finely diced Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot; add the garlic, onion, thyme, sage, salt, pepper and herb blend. Cook, stirring, until flavors release, about 3 minutes. Add the riesling; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add the broth, parsnip, carrot, potato, squash and wild rice; heat mixture to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer; cook until vegetables soften, about 30 minutes.

Add the green beans, tomatoes and mushrooms; cook until all the vegetables and rice are tender, 15-25 minutes. Stir in the spinach; cook until slightly wilted, 1 minute. Ladle stew into bowls; add the cheese just before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Per serving: 263 calories, 19 percent of calories from fat, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 47 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 1,319 mg sodium, 7 g fiber

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ITALIAN FISH STEW

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

-Any type of lean white fish such as snapper or halibut would work well in this fragrant, savory stew from assistant editor Joe Gray. Traditionally, a mixture of several kinds would be used, so experiment with what looks best at the fish counter.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 can (28 ounces) imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 pound cleaned squid, legs chopped, bodies cut into rings

2 1/2 pounds assorted firm white fish fillets, cut in 2-inch chunks

1 cup water, optional

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper, chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add fennel and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and their juice, the wine and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt; heat just to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer; cook until flavors come together, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the squid; cook over low heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Add the fish and 1 cup water or more, if needed; cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with red pepper flakes, black pepper to taste, parsley and more salt, if needed.

Nutrition information per serving: 353 calories, 32 percent of calories from fat, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 156 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 45 g protein, 851 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

•

GARLIC-STEWED SPARERIB NUGGETS

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

-The late Barbara Tropp included this recipe in "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking." It lends itself to a number of variations, from spicing up with chili flakes and green onions to stirring in sturdy vegetables such as broccoli and carrots. Tropp calls for cutting the spareribs across the bone into nuggets, preferably by a butcher. But you can also make this dish with the individual ribs simply separated. Buy Chinese salted black beans at Asian markets.

6 cloves garlic, smashed

1 cup hot water

3 1/2 tablespoons Chinese salted black beans, chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons oil

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, optional

2 to 2 1/4 pounds pork spareribs, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1. Combine garlic, hot water, black beans, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over high heat; add green onions and chili flakes. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add ribs; stir-fry until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add black bean mixture, chicken broth and carrots. Heat to a boil, stirring to coat ribs.

3. Lower heat to a simmer; cover. Simmer until meat is cooked through and tender, stirring once, about 45 minutes. Carefully pour off liquid into a degreaser or bowl; degrease. Return liquid to Dutch oven. Reheat if necessary.

Nutrition information per serving: 550 calories, 66 percent of calories from fat, 40 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 128 mg cholesterol, 10 g carbohydrates, 36 g protein, 1,115 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

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(c) 2008, Chicago Tribune.

Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at http://www.chicagotribune.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): stew



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