This French-style beef stew recipe is from Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian, author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy." Photo by: AP Photo/Elizabeth Karmel
February 7, 2018 10:48:48 AM
When it comes to making beef stews, the French are clear winners.
French beef stews -- from wine country's Boeuf Bourguignon to southern France's Daube a la Provencale -- get their unmistakable flavor from onions, red wine, chunks of beef, herbs and often bacon or fatty pork that simmer together for hours, creating heady, delicious aromas. My entire family can identify French stews bubbling in the oven from the moment they waltz into the kitchen. Immediately, their eyes light up and their lips form into a knowing smile in anticipation of one of their favorite meals.
So, dare I make a healthy version of a dish that celebrates my (Marseille-born) husband's heritage, especially given he grew up eating a truly-perfect version of stew made by his mom? I treaded lightly, but found a few tricks that kept the flavor while vastly improving the nutrition profile.
The good news is that the main source of richness -- red wine -- stays. The tweaks were actually quite simple. I cut nearly all of the bacon, keeping one slice for flavor and boosted the smoky quality by adding calorie-free smoked paprika. The flavor held up enough that my family didn't notice, even if I confess I did (still worth the trade-off.) I doubled the veggie quantities (and added more American-stew carrots), boosting vitamins and fiber, and reduced the meat by about 25 percent compared to my normal stew, slashing fat, and no one even noticed.
Regarding the vegetables, I cut them a little larger than usual -- just slightly bigger than bite-sized -- so they would remain bulky, even after long simmering. Bulkier vegetables meant a less compact stew visually, which meant a nice big bowl of stew per serving. Last tweak was to make the stew a day ahead, chill it, and skim off the congealed fat before reheating. Whatever silkiness the stew may have lost by the missing fat was more than made up for by the extra time the flavors had to marry. You can also let the stew cool a bit on the counter and spoon out liquid fat as best you can, if your family is like mine and simply can't wait to dig in.
FRENCH-STYLE BEEF STEW WITH VEGGIES
Start to finish: 24 hours, including inactive marinating and chilling time
2 1/2 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 2-3-inch pieces
3 medium yellow onions, sliced lengthwise, about 4-5 cups total
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 slice of bacon, cut into small pieces
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 carrots, chopped into slightly larger than bite sized pieces, about 2-3 cups
1 stalk celery, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced thickly (or quartered)
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup beef broth
4 stems fresh rosemary and thyme, tied together with kitchen string
2 bay leaves
Nutrition information per serving: 284 calories; 80 calories from fat; 9 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 83 mg cholesterol; 176 mg sodium; 14 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 32 g protein.