Beef stew is something I never liked growing up. I'm not completely sure why. I loved gravy, so it should have been a perfect fit. I think it's a combination of not having it very much and not really liking beef in an not-ground form.
It took me going to Ireland and trying Guinness stew at a little pub tucked away in the Wicklow Mountains to discover what a wonder stew could be. After having moderate success recreating Guinness stew over the years since, I've broadened out to stews that don't involve stout. My most recent was an Italian version - that used white wine and tomatoes. My husband is somewhat of a stew purist, and he was skeptical (to be polite) after reading the recipe but in the end, we both agreed. This was a great recipe for a change, but we prefer our "regular" recipe. I think he may have had a higher opinion of it if I had put more carrots in the stew, though.
Italian Beef Stew
Recipe from Italian Foodies blog
Prep Time - 20 min
Cook Time - 2 1/2 hrs
1 1/2 lb stewing meat, cut into small cubes
3 TBSP canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1-2 ribs celery, sliced
5 TBSP dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 big sprig of thyme
salt & pepper, to taste
2 TBSP flour
2 cups beef broth
Heat oil in a big pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5-7 min, or until soft. Add bay leaves.
Add carrots, celery, and thyme and cook for about 10 min, stirring occasionally.
Add meat and flour and cook until browned.
Add wine and cook until it is almost all evaporated. Add tomatoes and beef broth (start with 1 cup of broth and then add more if it's looking a bit dry. Season with salt & pepper (I think I ended up using about 1/2 tsp of both). Cover and cook over low heat for about 2 hrs.
Serve with thick bread for dipping.