Beef stews routinely include carrots in the mix. But for this rendition, already slightly sweet with golden raisins and tarragon, I prefer to cook and serve them on the side. Simply poached in water with a few slivers of garlic, a dash of chili flakes, and a pinch of salt, carrots add the touch of color and vegetable element and lend their dulcet, earthy taste without cloying the savory stew sauce.
For the stew:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow or white onion, halved lengthwise and sliced 3/8-inch thick
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 bottle dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 anchovy filets, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
For the carrots:
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into “sticks” or rounds, depending on their shape, 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Pinch of kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. In uncrowded batches, brown the beef chunks all around, salting and peppering as you go. Transfer each batch to an oven dish as you go.
3. After the last batch, add the onions and raisins and sauté, stirring, until beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tarragon. Add the wine, tomato paste, and anchovy, stir to mix, and bring to a boil over high heat. Transfer the contents of the saute pan to the oven dish, cover, and bake for 2 hours.
4. Turn off the oven. Carefully lift the lid, away from your face to avoid escaping steam, and stir the stew. Cover again and let rest in the oven for at least 1 hour to finish cooking to tenderness with residual heat.
5. When ready to serve, combine the carrots, garlic, chili flakes, and salt in a saute pan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer, and cook until the carrots are barely pierceable. Reheat the stew if necessary. Serve with the poached carrots on the side.