I found the recipe for this wonderful stew scribbled on a piece of paper and I’m not sure where it originally came from. When I saw star anise and fresh fennel in the list of ingredients, I knew I had to give this a go. I’m a huge fennel fan. I have a stash of star anise and have been waiting to use it. It’s a spice that resembles anise (fennel) in flavor and comes from an evergreen tree found in China and Vietnam.
Typically I like to spend Sunday afternoons cooking a meal or two for the upcoming week and a stew is a perfect do ahead as it’s better a day or two later. Of course I had to taste it when I pulled it from the oven and it was so good I almost served it right then. The stew has a rich flavor, but it’s not at all heavy. There’s a hint of orange along with the aromatic fennel and just the right of amount of tomato.
Beef Stew Provencal
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
2-1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 head garlic, peeled and cloves cut in half
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup beef broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 whole star anise
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and garlic halves and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Place about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the dutch oven over medium high heat. Roll pieces of beef in flour and when oil is hot add pieces of beef-do not crowd pan. Brown meat on all sides and remove to a bowl or a plate. You’ll need to do this in batches.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
When all the beef is browned add the wine to the pan and reduce by half, scraping up the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the broth, orange juice and crushed tomatoes. Add the fennel seed, rosemary, herbes de provence and star anise. Add the browned beef and bring to bubbling. Cover the dutch oven and place in preheated oven and bake for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Check the stew periodically-you may beed to add a little more broth or water. Stir in chopped parsley.
Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.
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