Forget everything you think you know about beef stew. Bid adieu to waterlogged carrots and white potatoes, mushy gray-green peas, and bland, brown gravy. Instead, imagine thyme-scented beef, just-tender zucchini, bright orange carrots, and briny black olives in a flavor-infused broth. It’s both comforting on a chilly evening and special enough to serve to company.
In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Use your fingers to crush the dried thyme into the bowl. With a peeler or sharp knife, carefully cut the peel from an orange to make two strips that are 1 inch wide by 3 inches long. Add the peel to the bowl, then squeeze the juice from the oranges to make about
Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes. Add the beef to the marinade and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or up to overnight. Remove the meat from the marinade and keep the marinade; you’ll add it to the stew later. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with plenty of salt and ground black pepper.
Heat a large, deep pot over medium-high heat, then add the ghee. When the ghee is melted, add the beef cubes to the pan in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan. (Everyone appreciates a little wiggle room when the heat is on.) Brown the beef on all sides in batches; remove the beef to a bowl as it browns.
When the meat is browned, add the onions and garlic to the drippings (add a little more ghee, if necessary) and cook until soft and golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. Return the beef to the pot and add the bay leaves, tomatoes, broth, and reserved marinade. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes.
Place the zucchini, carrots, and olives on top of the meat in the pot, then cook an additional 20 minutes, covered, until the beef and vegetables are tender. Serve topped with minced parsley and a gentle drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
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