I know spring is (supposedly) finally here, which means light, fresh, "spring-y" meals are on the way.  Unfortunately, spring has taken so long to arrive this year, I have doubted that we would ever see warm days and green trees ever again.  So when I search books and the internet for new recipes, I still find myself drawn to hearty, rich dishes that simmer all day on the stove or in the oven...rich with braised meats and tender root vegetables.  Hence, this stew.  If you are actually experiencing spring wherever you are, feel free to save this recipe until the fall.  And also...you suck.

"Spring-Will-Never-Get-Here" Beef Stew

2 pounds beef chuck (stew meat), cut into cubes
canola oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
salt and pepper
12 ounces white and/or cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups low sodium beef stock
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2" thick
2 stalks celery, sliced 1/2" thick
2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced
cornstarch, as needed for thickening

Heat a few tablespoons canola oil in large, heavy pot.  In batches, brown beef until richly browned on all sides.  Remove beef to a plate as it browns.

Add onion and garlic to pot, season with salt and papper, and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown.  Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms have released their moisture and have started to brown.

Deglaze pan with red wine and scrape all of the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until wine has reduced until nearly evaporated.

Add beef stock, tomato paste, bay leaf, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil, return beef to pan (along with any juices) and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer, covered, over low heat, for 1 hour.

Add carrots, celery and potatoes to pot.  Cover and continue to simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  If too thin, dissolve some cornstarch in a small amount of water and add gradually until it reaches the desired thickness.

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of good wine.  Continue to wait for spring.  Let me know when it gets here.