Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stewing Things Up

Ah its a cold Sunday in October and I am ready for some stew-something that I made for the first time this week. I was pretty surprised how easy it was to make stew (though time consuming in this case). I shall tell you how I made my stew- but I am sure you'll think I am a little crazy if I do so and most likely wont try this on your own.

Basically my whole inspiration for stew-making was the large cut of rump that I had cooked earlier in the week which has come out tough and a big chewy due to my impatience in cooking it-therefore setting the oven at much too high a heat and coming out with a tough dinner. I had decided to try my hand at tenderizing these delectable morsels and so stuck them in a pot with a few cups of chicken broth, a few cups of white wine, some splashes of balsamic vinegar, teriyaki sauce, and lots of spices-particularly my New Orleans spice mix, cumin, a bit of tumeric, paprika, chili powder and garlic salt and a few dashes of oregano. I then dumped in a bag of raw uncooked beans and let the pot simmer for about 4 hours (maybe 3 and a half) until the beans were tender enough to eat. I then put in some frozen vegetables-a mixture of carrots and green beans-and thinned the soup out with a bit of extra water, chicken broth and some fresh herbs from my garden (oregano, basil and sage). Voila! A stupendous stew.

Now, most stews it seems you just throw in whatever you have and boil it with some spices and a bit of love and you still get tastiness (heck thats what I did). I did, however, find a good more intense but delicious looking recipe on the internet:


* 8 slices of bacon
* 2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
* salt & pepper, to taste
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 3 leeks, chopped and well rinsed (use the white part and an inch or two of the green)
* 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch julienne
* 2 turnips, peeled and cut into pieces
* 2 teaspoons of sugar
* 2 1/2 cups of homemade beef stock
* 2 1/2 cups of red wine (preferable Burgundy, but drinkable)
* 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
* 2 tablespoons of butter
* 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly
* 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
* 2 cups of pearl onions, red or white
* 8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (wild mushrooms if available)
* 8 -10 red new potatoes, quartered
* 6 cloves of garlic, minced
* 1/2 of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Prep Work

Lot's of prep work so get busy and do it before you even think of starting this recipe. The more you prep before starting the actual cooking, the easier everything else goes. Nothing is worse than starting a recipe and having to stop everything to peel and chop an onion. Start by cutting the beef chuck into 1-inch cubes. Next chop the onions.

The leeks must be well rinced before using so you can wash them first and then chop or chop and wash. Makes no difference except you want to be sure to get rid of all and any of the sand that is common with leeks. When chopping, use all of the white part and about an inch or two of the green.

Peel the carrots and cut them into 1 1/2 inch julienne. Peel the turnips and cut into pieces. Have your beef stock and wine ready to go. Finely chop the fresh rosemary and parsley.

The pearl onions will need to be peeled. It's a pain in the but job but someone has to do it. Prepare the pearl onions by boiling them for 5 minutes, rinse, drain, and peel. Reserve them with the rest of the vegetables.

Slice your mushrooms, quarter the potatoes and finish by mincing the garlic.

1. Cook the bacon in a large sauté pan until the fat is rendered. Remove the crisp bacon and transfer it to a large heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. (approximately 5-6 quarts)
2. Sauté the beef in the same pan until all sides are browned. Don't crowd the beef or it will steam and not brown properly, so cook it in batches if necessary. Season with a little salt and pepper. When finished, transfer to your large cooking pot.
3. Add the onions, leeks, carrots, and turnips to the sauté pan, add sugar and cook over medium high heat for approximately 8 minutes. Remove the vegetables and reserve in a large bowl.
4. Add the butter to the sauté pan and sauté the mushrooms over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes. Transfer to the reserved vegetables.
5. Add the wine to deglaze the sauté pan, then the beef stock, and then whisk in red currant jam, tomato paste and rosemary. Cook for a couple of minutes and add to the pot with the meat and bacon.
6. Add the potatoes and garlic to the meat, bacon, and cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.
7. Add the reserved vegetables, half the chopped parsley and continue cooking until the meat is tender. (approximately 30-45 minutes)
8. Serve using the remaining parsley for garnish.

This is great with some French bread and a bottle of Burgundy wine especially on one of these cold nights.

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