VIET BEEF STEW WITH STAR ANISE AND LEMONGRASS

  • 1 (2-lb). boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
  • 3 oz. lemongrass stalks ( 2 large or 3 medium stalks). trimmed,cut into 3-inch pieces, and gently smashed with a mallet or heavy saucepan
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil,divided
  • 1 cup chopped shallots or yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1-1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, mint, or basil

1.Toss together beef, lemongrass, fish sauce, brown sugar, and all fivespice in a large bowl. Let beef marinate at room temperature 30 minutes.

2.Heat a Dutch oven over high until very hot, add 1 tbsp oil. Remove one third of beef from marinade, and add to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned on 2 to 3 sides,2 to 3 minutes.Transfer to a plate. Repeat process twice with 2 tbsp oil and remaining beef, reserving marinade in bowl.

3. Reduce heat to medium low. Add shallots, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 tbsp oil; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, star anise, bay leaf, and salt. Bring mixture to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces and thickens slightly, 12 to 14 minutes.

4. Return beef and accumulated juices on plate to Dutch oven; stir in reserved beef marinade. Cook stirring often, until tomato mixture thickens and coats beef, about 5 minutes. Stir in 5 cups water; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until beef yields slightly when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

5. Skim and discard fat from surface of stew. Stir carrots into stew; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered, until beef and carrots are tender and sauce has thickened and coats the back of spoon, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand. uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Taste stew; if needed, add more fish sauce or salt to intensify flavor, or add a few splashes of water to lighten flavors. Remove and discard lemongrass, star anise, and bay leaf. Divide stew among shallow bowls; sprinkle with cilantro.

MAKE AHEAD This stew develops fabulous flavor when made 1 or 2 days ahead. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

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