This beef and apricot stew is cooked in red wine. I cooked the stew in the oven to minimize evaporation. No peeking and stirring required.
Yes, it is possible to make it on the stovetop too but you might have to add broth, little by little, if the liquid evaporates faster than the beef can reach the desired tenderness.
So, this is a stew so a beef cut meant for stewing is required. That means a cut that needs long and slow cooking. Don’t be tempted to substitute a cut that’s meant to cook in a short time because the magic of the dish lies in allowing the meat to soak up the flavors of a apricot-flavored sauce.
Cut the beef into cubes, season with salt and pepper, toss in flour and brown in a mixture of butter and olive oil. Why brown the meat? There’s a detailed explanation for that and you can just read it.
Do we really need to brown meat before braising or stewing?
Many recipes, especially recipes for stews, start by browning the meat in oil before adding the aromatics and the liquids. Why brown the meat? Surely, it will cook even if the browning process is skipped? Sure, it will. But you’ll miss out on flavors.
Set the beef aside and, to the browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan, add onion, garlic and celery and saute until the vegetables soften.
Put the browned beef back in and pour in the wine. Boil until the liquid reduces. This is essential. You’re getting rid of the bitterness of the wine because you only want the rich fruitiness to be left in the pot for the beef to cook in.
Add the dried apricots. Should you cut them before adding or should they be left whole? That’s really up to you. I go by size. If they are too large and stirring them in is tricky, I cut them into halves. Otherwise, they can be left whole.
Add tarragon sprigs on top of the beef, apricots and vegetables. Taste the liquid, and add salt and pepper, if needed, then transfer the pot to the preheated oven. In two hours or so, you will be able to enjoy your delicious beef and apricot stew.
Beef and apricot stew
- 800 grams stewing beef - short ribs, brisket, crest… any of them will be good
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 ½ cups red wine - recommended: cabernet sauvignon or merlot
- 1 cup dried apricots cut into halves if large
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 1 ½ bone broth
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Cut the beef into two-inch cubes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
- Place in a resealable bag, add the flour and shake thoroughly to coat each piece well.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in an oven-safe pot or pan.
- Brown the meat on all sides. Scoop out.
- Pour off the oil until only about two tablespoonfuls remain. DO NOT scrape off the browned bits.
- Reheat the oil. Saute the garlic, onion and celery, scraping the bottom lightly but thoroughly to get the browned bits to mix with the vegetables.
- Return the browned beef to the pot.
- Pour in the wine; add salt and pepper. Boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by a quarter (see notes after the recipe).
- Throw in the apricots and stir.
- Add the tarragon sprigs.
- Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Cover the pot tightly, transfer to the oven and cook for two hours or longer until the beef is tender.
- Taste the stew and adjust the seasonings before serving.