Making an amazing stew is a whole lot simpler than most people figure. After you brown up your beef, all you basically have to do is throw a bunch of tasty ingredients in a pot and let it do its thing. Adding green beans at the end of cooking freshens up the stew and their snap is cool. You can make it completely in advance, as far as 2 days ahead of time. Just refrigerate it right in the pot and reheat it over low heat. You'll have to stir in a cup or so of water because the stew will have thickened up. (Do the water thing if you're reheating leftover stew too.) I use butter to brown the beef because it adds richness to the stew and makes for a creamier gravy. But you can substitute any type of oil for the butter if you want. Pretty much any decent red wine will do for stew; I like using Burgundy or Cabernet Sauvignon but the basic rule is that as long as you'd be happy drinking what you're cooking with you're in good shape.
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