POTAGER BEEF & LEEK STEW WITH POPOVERS
Simple, yet elegant, this may be one of the most cherished family meals at our Weston table. The subtle sweetness that the balsamic vinegar coaxes from the meat combined with the velvety texture of the braised leeks creates a hearty weeknight meal fit for a ravenous crowd. There never seems to be enough popovers to soak up the delicious juices, but when someone thinks no one is watching, I've heard a bit of slurping right from the bowl.
Nota bene: After step 4, the beef may be transferred to a slow cooker set to low for 8 hours and forgotten about until dinnertime.
3 large leeks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 pounds boneless beef shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3-4 cups water
1. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then cut them crosswise into 1/2 –inch-thick slices. Include all but the final 2 or 3 inches of the green shaft.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed flameproof casserole dish or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, 8-10 minutes.
3. Add all but 1/2 cup of the leeks to the beef and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle the leeks and beef with the flour, salt and pepper and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes to brown the flour.
4. Add the balsamic and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits that cling to the bottom. Slowly add 2 cups of the water and bring to a bowl, continuing to stir. Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer the stew until a thick sauce has formed and the meat can be cut with a fork, about 2 hours. Add additional water, a little at a time, as needed to keep the meat moist.
5. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
6. Serve in warmed bowls with Jordan Pond House Popovers.