Chicago Italian Beef Stew

It had been a while since I'd made beef stew that wasn't in a crock pot. I had a new Dutch oven and decided to give it a try. I don't often follow recipes to a T, so I did what I usually do and found a few recipes that looked good and put together one based on all the ingredients I had and liked. The results were pretty delicious.

2 pounds stew meat
2 tsps salt
2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, cut in strips
6 garlic gloves, smashed or 3 tsps minced garlic
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups red wine
3 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 tbsps Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Gravy Mix
1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into large chunks
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 celery stalks

Pat stew meat dry and sprinkle with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat Dutch oven with remaining oil. Add meat and sear, turning each piece with tongs until crust forms on all sides. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft.

Add balsamic and tomato paste, stirring to prevent sticking. Add flour and stir, cook for about 5 minutes until flour is dissolved. Add wine, broth and water and bring to a boil. Add seasonings and reduce to low heat. **One note on the seasonings, I loved using the Chicago Johnny's Italian Beef Gravy Mix. You can purchase it online and to me it just made it taste like Chicago, hence the name of the dish. I always love the flavor of the juice (gravy) when I make Italian beef or get a side cup of it to dip my sandwich in from a restaurant - and this added that kind of vibe.

My intention was to transfer the Dutch oven into my oven and cook over several hours...but when I bought a new oven, I went for the double oven option, which means those two ovens are smaller than what I'm used to and it didn't fit. So, I ended up doing it all on the stovetop. I let it sit untouched on the lowest heat setting for a couple hours. After 2 hours, I added the vegetables, stirred and returned the lid to the top, cooking for another hour. 

The meat was so tender and it was the best of two different worlds - beef stew and Italian beef. I recommend some crusty Italian bread to go along with it.