28 April, 2008
Beef StewTags: basic, beef, stew
It’s a chilly and rainy Monday here, so I decided that even though the weather has recently been unseasonably warm, today would be a good day for beef stew.
I picked up a couple of pounds of bottom round chuck steak, which I cut into chunks and got rid of as much of the fat as I could. I also found a discounted package of boneless beef ribs that I couldn’t pass up. I’m a believer that less is more when it comes to beef stew. I’ve seen recipes that throw in all kinds of aromatics and vegetables, but I like to concentrate on one or two vegetables and a thick gravy to accentuate the beef. So, in the produce department, they’d set aside about a pound of sweet grape tomatoes that were a little past peak for 43c. I also picked up some fresh thyme and a couple of big spanish onions. For my cooking liquid, I knew I had a couple of bottles of Guinness at home, but you could cut a single bottle with some chicken stock if you think Guinness alone would be too much.
So the procedure is like this : Leave the meat out on the counter to get to room temperature. About 4 hours before dinner, preheat the oven to 300° — low and slow. Cut the meat into chunks and dry on paper towels. Salt and pepper generously. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides in a cast iron pan, and move it over to a dutch oven, until all the meat is good and browned. Don’t hurry this procedure. Let everything get a dark mahogany crust. While you’re waiting, prepare your vegetables. In this case, I sliced the onions, and then I tossed them into the frying pan once the last of the meat was browned, with a half a stick of butter, and worked off all the little crusties left behind in the pan. Meanwhile, I emptied two bottles of dark beer plus the whole bag of tomatoes into the dutch oven on top of the meat. I shook a couple tablespoons of flour over the onions … I could have also added some tomato paste, too. Then I transferred that to the dutch oven, too. I wrapped some cooking string around a thick bundle of thyme, plus some smoked paprika, and then put on the lid, and started the pot to boil. You’re wasting your time if you don’t get the liquid good and boiling before transferring it into the oven.
Let it cook for a couple-a-3½ hours. Maybe longer. I took it out about 2 hours in and stirred it. Also, about 20 minutes before I was set to serve it up, I took it out and put in some israeli couscous, to give it some body, but dried pasta would probably do well, too. It turned out really well, and it made a ton of leftovers.