Belgian Beef Stew

Thu, Oct 30 • 0

On a cool autumn night, nothing tastes better than a hearty bowl of beef stew.

I made an awesome stew the other night. Not a lot of ingredients. You can cut your prep time by buying stew meat, but the pieces they give you are usually leftovers and trimmings from other cuts, and come in unusual sizes. By cutting your own cubes from a boneless roast, you can control how much fat remains, and you can cut the pieces in more uniform sizes. (Don’t cut off all of the fat from the meat, since it provides flavor.) As for the cooking liquid, I prefer Chimay Trappist Ale. I think it adds just the right flavor without adding too much bitter flavor, but you can obviously use any quality ale you want. You can substitute any vegetables you want, though I think the onions are essential. Cubed turnips work well.

4 lbs. boneless chuck roast
2 large spanish onions
1 large parsnip
2 large carrots
½ cup + 2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves garlic
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large bottle ale (75 cl)
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat your oven to 300°. Meanwhile, cut the roast into proper 1-inch pieces as described above. Season with salt and pepper, and toss in the ½ cup flour to coat. In the bottom of your heaviest dutch oven, brown the meat in small batches with the olive oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, getting a good golden brown crust. Discard the oil between batches if the bottom of the pan is getting too scorched.

Slice the onions, and peel and slice the carrots, parsnip, and garlic, and brown them in the pot, adding a little water to help get the bits off the bottom. Add the tomato paste, and cook that for a few minutes, so it’s spread all throughout the vegetables. Now add the spices, the browned meat, and the bottle of beer, and bring the whole thing up to a rolling boil. Tightly lid, and put it in the oven to braise for 1 or 2 hours, until the beef is very tender, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t bubbled away.

Mix the remaining flour and the butter to make a paste — this is called a beurre manié — and stir that in to thicken. Remove the bay leaves, and check for seasoning. You can optionally garnish with lemon zest. Serve over egg noodles or with a crusty loaf of bread.


Beef Stew

Mon, Apr 28 • 0

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.


Chili Experiment #1

Sun, Jan 20 • 0

chilipeppers.jpgSo I tried my hand at making chili today, without a recipe. It turned out pretty well, but I think it could have used a little more heat. Here’s what I did…

First I put a couple of dried chilies into a 350° oven for about 10 minutes. I’d read that this sort of brightens their flavor a bit, and is supposed to add some smoky undertones. Not sure if that happened. I used two kinds Guajillo and Cascabel, a couple toasted and a couple not, with their stems and seeds removed, then ground up in my spice grinder. I also had some ground Allepo chilies, too.

Then I took a large sweet onion and chopped it pretty thoroughly in the food processor, along with an orange bell pepper and three cloves of garlic. I put that in my dutch oven with a little olive oil, and cooked it over medium heat. I cut 2lbs of brisket into 1″ cubes, removing the larger pieces of fat from each piece, and browned them in a cast iron pan. To the onions, I added a whole can of tomato paste, 2T of the chili powder, 1 T of oregano, and 1T of ground cumin, plus some salt and pepper. I let the tomato paste cook a bit, then added the beef and a can of Guinness Stout — (admittedly, not a very mexican touch), plus, 2T of dark chocolate cocoa powder. I stirred all of this together, and let it come to a boil, and then I put in in the 350 oven with the lid on. After about 2 hours, I could smell that the liquid had cooked down quite a bit, so I pulled it out, and let it cool, since I wasn’t going to be eating for awhile.

A couple hours later, I soaked up what grease had floated to the surface with a paper towel, and then put it back on the heat. I was afraid it wouldn’t be substantial enough, and considered making some rice, but ultimately added a can of black beans, rinsed.

Ok. Not exactly authentic. But it tasted pretty good. Next time, I think I’ll skip the Guinness and add some tomato sauce and some water instead. I also think it could have used a bit more heat… though my wife is pretty sensitive to spicy food. We’ll see. What’s your favorite chili recipe?


Oof!, Part 2

Mon, Dec 31 • 0

So, as a follow up to this post, the short ribs were quite the success. I can tell you now that I was making an elaborate and unusual beef stew that Alton Brown described in a recent episode. The hardest part was reheating everything up at the family house in Connecticut. I was prepared to bring some of my tools, but I wasn’t going to bring up anything I wasn’t 100% ok about leaving behind if I forgot it, or for whatever reason. So that meant leaving my enameled french cast iron at home. I did bring the one cast iron dutch oven I had because I hardly ever use it here. And I ended up using a cast iron dutch oven that normally sits next to the fireplace, and was completely covered with dust. After washing it inside and out, the inside still had a whiff of the oil that was applied to its inside who knows how long ago. I couldn’t get rid of the slightly rancid odor, and unfortunately, half the stew ended up taking on a little of that flavor. All’s well that ends well, because everyone seemed to like the stew anyway. And, for dessert, I served the Ina Garten’s rice pudding.

As for the competition, it ended up not really coming off, since my oldest brother didn’t get a chance to prepare his meal, since we all raced home a day early due to a threat of snow. Still, everyone had a great time, and everyone enjoyed the meal I made.


Please note: Cooking Monster is in no way related to the trademarked characters of Muppets, Inc. Co.
Copyright © 2017, Cooking Monster.com • Contact Us