Hotbox Hipster

a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related


tyler florence

stellar beef stew



melt in your mouth tender
melt in your mouth tender

There may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread…. There may be.”

i am always looking for a recipe for a fabulous Beef Stew…. one that has depth of flavor, melt in your mouth beef,  but doesn’t take half the day to prepare and cook.  After making this modified version of Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef stew, i’m fairly certain I won’t have to look any longer.  The preparation is very straight forward… not fussy at all.  once you cut your beef and prepare your veggies, it’s easy sailing to a cool weather dinner you won’t soon forget.  this recipe calls for a whole bottle of red wine. I have prepared it with both Pinot Noir and a Zinfandel in the past… but a nice Cab or a bottle of Merlot would work out equally as well.  To be perfectly honest with you, I usually pick something that I enjoy drinking, and I pour a glass to enjoy while I prep the ingredients! (this dish will not suffer without that one glass- trust me.)  I generally  make it with a regular onion, diced up and added fairly early on; but next time I plan to add the pearl onions like the original recipe calls for.  I think they will add an extra layer of rustic, yet fancy to the dish… if that makes any sense.  nonetheless, we are excited to try it that way.  I made it with fresh thyme this time around, but have also used dried thyme in the past.  today at work I just finished the last of this stew which I prepared three days ago.  it was truly just as good, if not better on days two and three. It reheats wonderfully, bowl by bowl for two minutes in the microwave.  if only all leftovers could taste this wonderful!  Granted, this is not something  you will make all of the time, given the expense of the beef and the bottle of red…  but instead will be chalked up as one of your ‘special‘ dinners in no time.


the ingredient list:

1/4 c olive oil

3 T of butter

1 cup of flour

2.5 or so pounds of chuck roast/ chuck shoulder roast/ pot roast/ or sirloin tip roast

salt and pepper

bottle of dry red wine

8 fresh thyme sprigs or a level teaspoon of dried thyme

6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1/4 t ground cloves

2 bay leaves

1 can beef broth

14oz can of diced tomatoes

5 Yukon gold potatoes (small to md) washed and diced- skins on

four large carrots- peeled and diced

2 cups of frozen pearl onions (or half of a large Spanish onion- diced)

if  you like mushrooms, add some. I used four Crimini mushrooms- wiped clean and large diced.

flat leaf parsley for garnish


cut up your beef into 1.5 inch cubes- trimmed of most fat.


– prep your veggies as above. – open your cans and uncork your bottle of wine.  OK let’s roll. Add your olive oil to a heavy sauce pan or dutch oven. Add some heat- medium high. Add a cup of flour to a plate, salt and pepper your beef generously, toss beef in flour to coat, working with small batches at a time.  Add said beef to your hot oil in the pot. brown it on all sides/ flipping it around with a fork. remove to a plate, and repeat until all of the beef is browned.  Add the wine to the pan carefully and scrape up all the lovely browned bits from the bottom. Add your garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, cloves, bay leaves, beef broth, can of diced tomatoes, and diced onion. (if you are using the frozen pearl onions- do not add yet). Bring just to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. cook uncovered for 15 mins. Stir lightly, and then apply lid, and cook for 2 hours longer.   At the 2 hour point, add your potatoes and carrots and pearl onions (if using) as well as your mushrooms.  Tyler suggests adding a large pinch of sugar at this point to balance out the acidity of the wine. He is smart AND cute.  continue to simmer for another 35 mins, stirring occasionally.  remove the thyme and bay leaves, and serve over egg noodles or campanelle noodles for a hearty meal that is sure to please.  sprinkle each bowl with some freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, and relish in the amazing meal you have just prepared.


beef stew


spag balls 101

i’m sharing my recipe for a tray of delicious, mouth watering meatballs… this recipe was adapted from ‘the ultimate meatballs’ by my lust man Tyler Florence.

everybody in the sauce!


you’ll need:

  •  1 large onion (red or sweet onion)

  • flat leaf parsley (fresh)

  • seven cloves of garlic

  • sandwich bread (six to eight slices)

  • milk

  • parmesan cheese

  •  one egg

  •  1 lb (or over) of ground pork and 1 lb(or over) of ground round or sirloin

  • salt/pepper

  • two 28oz cans of De Fratelli all purpose italian sauce

  • olive oil for cooking.

get out a med sized bowl and place your white bread in it- (cut the crust off) pour milk overtop to saturate a bit (maybe 3/4 cup or so.) set aside. in the largest frying pan you’ve got (non stick)- add a few tablespoons of olive oil. chop up the onion into very small diced pieces. set aside. mince your garlic and set aside as well.  take a big rip of your fresh parsley, (very large handful) chop up and set aside. hit the pan with some heat. md/high should do. once the oil is warmed, add your onion and parsley -saute til soft, about five to ten minutes, adding garlic around last two minutes.  turn off heat/set pan aside to cool. in a large bowl, add your ground meats. mix a lil to combine. squeeze out the excess milk from your bread (will be like a handful of mush) and add squeezed bread to meat.  spread it around over top to seperate a bit.  add the egg/ 1/2cup of parmesan cheese/ 1.5 t salt/1 t pepper (generous) and the onion mixture. dig in and combine. Using same skillet you sauteed onions in, add more olive oil (generous- coat the bottom well), don’t turn on heat yet. you gotta roll the balls. get a big piece of wax paper, or just your clean counter will do. roll them out, bigger than golfball size/ but smaller than a tennis ball. heat your pan/oil, and add enough balls to have room to turn them and play with them a bit.  you will likely do this in two, maybe three batches. in the meantime, get out a big lasagna pan, biggest you’ve got- and add your cans of sauce to it. brown your balls on both sides, (careful not to burn- it makes them taste awful) and add them to the sauce bath as they’re done. best way to turn a ball is with one of your dinner forks or bigger soup spoons. get it under there gently and flip it. Bake all the balls in the sauce bath in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes. not covered. when they’re nearly done, take and top them with slices of mozzarella cheese or provolone slices. (i like the prov better) enjoy with lasagna/ or spaghetti/ or whatever you like. they are killer the next day sliced in half and on a sandwich. you will love these balls. you’ll long for them. don’t say i didn’t warn you. spags.



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