I have been remiss in my stew making. We were in Portland for about 11 days and then right after returning home, my father-in-law passed. I wanted to do Ina Garten's "Parker's Stew" in her barefoot contessta "Back to Basics" cookbook before doing a finale.
She marinates the meat overnight in red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. My marinade ended up going for two days, so it might taste a bit different. One of my friends came up to spend the night, so she had Ina's stew and really liked it. I thought it could use some more veggies, so the end stew recipe will probably have more than potatoes and carrots. But it was really good. She bakes her stew, instead of stove-top. She also throws in a fresh rosemary branch, which adds lots of flavor. The meat was very tender and the flavor was wonderful. I think the bacon added a nice touch, but she browned her meat and the onions in the bacon grease, which tastes great but adds saturated fat to the dish.
I wish I had a picture, but my husband borrowed my pocket camera to take with him to take Flat Stanley pictures. More about Flat Stanley later.
So now it's time to use your ideas for the perfect stew, and you had some wonderful ones, use my own, and incorporate a few of Ina's. Final stew recipe coming soon!