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Beef stew, for crockpots or crackpots...

 
 
Reply Tue 27 Jun, 2006 06:57 pm
I know it's the middle of summer above the equator, but I don't care, I felt like doing a little braising while I tackle my recalcitrant household problems.

At the market yesterday, I bought a few pounds of chuck steak on sale; when I got home I hit google for recipes, as most of my cookbooks are packed (I have to paint the cupboards before I unpack them, but what color?)

I do have one new cookbook. I, who just got rid of about five cartons of cookbooks, and had done that on the move before the last one too, bought another damn cookbook. How could I help it? It's titled Southwest Slow Cooking. Got it home and looked at it more closely, and it's written for people with crockpots. Still, there are lots of recipes in it that can be adapted for people like me with big cast iron dutch ovens...

As it turns out, one particular recipe attracted me, and I didn't even get to that book yet.. it was from my google search. I happened to save about ten other recipes besides that to my computer braised beef file, so now I have a research experiment lined up on top of cupboard painting (yellow shelves?).

OK, ok, I'll give the recipe, just because it's already turning out so well I can hardly wait...



Here's the text for the recipe - I'll try to figure out how to give the link without giving my own name, which somehow ends up in the url.
Bet you can find it by googling La Lama Mountain Ovens and The Ultimate Beef Stew.



Family Secrets #33

The Ultimate Beef Stew

By Ray Zara, La Lama Mountain Ovens


One of life's truly great comfort foods is a piping hot bowl of beef stew. Since stews are seldom featured on Italian restaurant menus, you may think they are not authentically Italian. Actually, there are a number of dishes in different regions of Italy that fall into this category. Great stews are prepared by all ethnic cuisines throughout the world and the Italians are no exception to the rule.
With my rather adventuresome taste, I have tried all types of stews, from Dinty Moore's to extremely complex concoctions utilizing exotic ingredients and complicated techniques. The end result was to return to the basic dish that mom used to make.

Beef stew in our family went through an evolution of sorts. My mother's recipe for stew was passed to our sister Gloria, who added her refinements to the recipe and the results were excellent. CeCe and I have added our little twists as well, evolving our version of the "ultimate beef stew".

The best stewing beef comes from the chuck. Although it is very flavorful, beef chuck has a tendency to be a little tough and chewy. The object of this recipe is to retain that great beef flavor and transform the rather chewy beef chuck to fork tender. This recipe also takes a little extra care with the vegetables so that they retain their integrity and individual flavors. The resulting dish is tender beef with identifiable vegetables in a flavorful and rich gravy.

When I purchase the meat for this dish I like to start with a 3 pound bone-in chuck roast, then cut and trim the beef myself, and cook the bone with the stew. However, using pre-cut stewing beef from your local supermarket is perfectly acceptable.



Beef Stew

Serves four:
2 lbs. well trimmed stewing beef
3 Tblsp. olive oil
2 Tblsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
1 Tblsp. salt pork, diced
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1-½ Tblsp, flour
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 whole bay leaves
1 Tblsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
10 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves only
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups brown stock (or beef broth)
3 medium carrots, ½ inch pieces
3 large potatoes, 1 inch cubes
1 green bell pepper, cut in strips

Step One: Prepare the beef
Trim any excess fat and remove any signs of gristle. Cut the beef into bite sized cubes.

Step Two: Brown the beef and combine first 7 ingredients

Place butter and olive oil into a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add beef cubes, salt pork, and onion. When beef is browned and onions are translucent add the garlic and sprinkle the flour over all. Rapidly stir the mixture until the flour is absorbed.

Step Three: Cook the stew and add the next 9 ingredients

Add the diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, celery, parsley, white wine and brown stock. Bring to a slow simmer for one hour. Cover with a lid slightly askew, to prevent excess reduction, and continue cooking at a low simmer for an additional hour.

Step Four: Add three remaining ingredients and finish the stew

Add the carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. Slowly simmer the stew until the potatoes are done: approximately 1 hour.

When finished, adjust for salt. Add a little more brown stock if you prefer the stew a little thinner. Enjoy this hearty beef stew with a nice garden salad, a crusty slice of home made bread, and a glass of red wine. After serving four there should be enough left for a couple of second helpings - a requirement in our house.

This is one of those recipes that seems to get better with age. Making the stew a day ahead improves the flavor. Reheat gently until all the ingredients are hot throughout.

Altitude Adjustment: At 8,000 ft add an additional ½ cup brown stock and increase over all cooking time by about twenty minutes.


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OK, I of course didn't have everything. I haven't planted rosemary yet, and have no bay leaves. I added a fat tablespoon of Italian Seasoning by Morton and Bassett in the early part of the recipe where you add the rosemary. Added italian pancetta instead of salt pork. Added two anaheim chiles, sliced, along with the green pepper. Not quite my usual barrage of hot peppers, I'll do that another time. For the potatoes, I used reds.. Added some red swiss chard, mostly stems.

I also browned the meat separately in batches first, just my way, but did the rest much the same.




Please add any slow-simmer recipes you feel like to this thread...
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