For this earthy and satisfying stew, Jacques Pépin prefers to use flatiron steaks (also known by the butcher's term chicken steaks), a newly popular and surprisingly tender and inexpensive cut of beef that comes from the top blade near the shoulder.
Slideshow: More Affordable Meat Recipes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds beef top blade, or flatiron, steaks (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick), cut into 4-by-1-inch strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Two 12-ounce bottles Belgian-style pale ale
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
1 cup frozen baby peas
How to Make It
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until sizzling. Season the meat with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add half of the meat to the casserole and cook over high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meat and brown the other side. Transfer the meat to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil and meat, reducing the heat if the meat browns too quickly.
Add the onion to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir well. Stir in the pale ale and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and thyme and return the beef to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Bring the stew to a boil, skimming the surface occasionally. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Add the carrots, cover and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper, discard the bay leaves and serve.
The beef stew can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat the beef stew gently before proceeding.
Although a Belgian-style pale ale will complement this stew, you could also opt for a full-flavored red from southern France.
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