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Thoughts on how to brighten up stew and braises


FoodMuse
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I have folks coming over for a Beef and Vegetable stew for dinner. I simmered it with half a bottle of red and some tomato. It's good, but thinking maybe I should add an acid/herb to brighten the flavor.

This is a leftover stew I made 2 weeks ago and froze. Defrosted overnight. Serving it with popovers and my own homemade port wine cheese.

Thoughts? I'm also interested in how you perk up braises, stews, thickened soups, etc.

-Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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You could go Provencal and add some thin slivers of Orange peel (avoid adding the white pith). This definitely adds a bright mediterranean note...

i like to add some Herbs de Provence in my beef stew.

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You could go Provencal and add some thin slivers of Orange peel (avoid adding the white pith). This definitely adds a bright mediterranean note...

riffing off of this idea: why not a version of the gremolada traditionally served with osso buco, but made with orange zest instead of lemon? that plus minced garlic and italian parsley sprinkled on at serving time would surely brighten things up. but then some of my experiments work out better than others.... :rolleyes:

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You could go Provencal and add some thin slivers of Orange peel (avoid adding the white pith). This definitely adds a bright mediterranean note...

I like this med idea. How about throwing in a few good olives and some anchovy paste?

Margaret McArthur

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This won't really work for your current stew situation, but I have in the past used preserved lemon in a lamb tagine that took the tagine from ehhh? what does that need? .. to WOW.

Currently I'd say gastrique, use a similar flavor note from the wine you had (lets say blackberry, just for example) grab a bottle of blackberry flavored vinegar and make a nice sweet/tart gastrique. 9 times out of ten that resolves the problem for me

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Fantastic replies!

I ended up using a little vinegar. Thanks all.

I like this thread. Let's open it up to all type of recipes that need that one final component that brings it all together or gives it a punch.

I've got a pot on the stove with my simple red sauce. 1/2 minced onion, 1 garlic clove sauteed in lots of olive oil til soft toss in 28 oz plum tomatoes. Simmer til thickened.

Any great final additions? I have some great whole olives a friend brought back from Italy.

@maggiethecat Would it be weird to just toss them in with a mashed anchovie into the read sauce?

Thanks,

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I think I have the dill genetic equivalent to cilantro tasting like soap. Unless it's in a pickle- blech. :)

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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Fantastic replies!

I ended up using a little vinegar. Thanks all.

I like this thread. Let's open it up to all type of recipes that need that one final component that brings it all together or gives it a punch.

I've got a pot on the stove with my simple red sauce. 1/2 minced onion, 1 garlic clove sauteed in lots of olive oil til soft toss in 28 oz plum tomatoes.  Simmer til thickened.

Any great final additions? I have some great whole olives a friend brought back from Italy.

@maggiethecat Would it be weird to just toss them in with a mashed anchovie into the read sauce?

Thanks,

Grace

Depends on what you want you want to do with it. This is a mother base for many Italian tomato sauces.

If I were cooking it, I'd add the olives and anchovies earlier so they could meld with the other flavours whilst cooking.

Equally, being an adherent of sweet, sour, salty, hot mixes, I'd also add a bit of sugar and some chili (not enough to overwhelm, just enough to add a bit of heat).

For an easy, satisfying, sauce for pasta add some olives, chili, some rinsed salted capers, anchovies and some drained canned salmon or tuna.

At the end of cooking, which is really what you wanted to know about, add pesto and balsamic vinegar (these shouldn't be added earlier). This gives a more complex notes to a simple sauce.

If you want an umami hit, you really can't go past a few teaspoons of powdered, dried mushrooms such as porcini powder or, as I use because it's cheaper, home ground dried shiitake mushrooms.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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for just adding a little something i keep a small jar of a reduced basalmic glaze in the fridge. 1/4 cup supermarket basalmic with 2 tbsp brown sugar and reduce to a thick sauce. just a few drops on top of soups and stews.

for your red sauce - definitely a few mashed anchovies and some dried herbs(basil and oregano - maybe 1/2 tsp each) to the onion and garlic in the olive oil. then two or three Tbsp of tomato paste and cook it for about 5 minutes. 1/2 red wine and reduce then the tomatoes and just before serving add some fresh herbs - flat leaf parsley and basil finely minced and a few drops of basalmic.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

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Linda Ellerbee

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I often use simple balsamic vinegar to add acid and sweetness at the same time. I'm pretty happy with the CostCo Kirkland one in the square bottle, has four leaves quality seal. It's my every day balsamico that I use in many things.

I also sometimes add (and this might make some faint....) concentrated broth from Trader Joe's to things. It comes in a box of little packages (like ketchup). They have beef, chicken and veggie kinds and I actually like them quite a bit. Certainly better than any cube or other similar things I've tried.

Also Maggi is useful at times. And for beef Worcester sauce.

Or a spritz of fish sauce.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

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I think I have the dill genetic equivalent to cilantro tasting like soap. Unless it's in a pickle- blech. :)

You're not the only one. But, to be more accurate; dill doesn't hit me as being anywhere near as nasty as cilantro - to me. I can tolerate dill if I really must, where cilantro comes across as so vile to me that I'd go hungry rather than eat anything with cilantro. I wish I tasted it like others do!
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For my braised beef I cut the shoulder into large pieces and brown them very well. Proper salt and pepper application throughout the process goes a long way. Then I thoroughly caramelize lots of shallots for sweetness, add a little roux, and build the sauce with pinot noir, mushroom stock (just ground dried-porcini in hot water) and a good amount of homemade glace de viande (which I make a couple times a year and freeze in ice-cube trays). Add the beef back in and simmer for 2-3 hours in the oven (covered). I don't use any herbs - even thyme.

When it comes out I adjust with salt and pepper again, and serve with good crusty bread and the pinot that I used in the sauce. I've found that "dead" flavor comes about when you cook the braise too long. about 60-75% of the fluid used in the sauce is wine, so I normally find no need to add any additional acid - it's just right.

-----

I enjoy dill, but I'm also very sensitive to cilantro. I definitely cannot handle eating whole cilantro leaves, although I find it's flavor necessary in things like guacamole - just not as much as most people use. I was once served a cilantro pesto, and couldn't finish it. I felt like I had a mouth-full of palmolive for the rest of the night! :laugh:

"Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators."

- MacGyver

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I've found that "dead" flavor comes about when you cook the braise too long.  about 60-75% of the fluid used in the sauce is wine, so I normally find no need to add any additional acid - it's just right.

Adding an acid is not only about stopping a dead zone but also adding some high notes. Try it "as well as" rather than "instead of" and I think you'll be happy with the results.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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-----

I enjoy dill, but I'm also very sensitive to cilantro. I definitely cannot handle eating whole cilantro leaves, although I find it's flavor necessary in things like guacamole - just not as much as most people use. I was once served a cilantro pesto, and couldn't finish it. I felt like I had a mouth-full of palmolive for the rest of the night! :laugh:

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Adding an acid is not only about stopping a dead zone but also adding some high notes. Try it "as well as" rather than "instead of" and I think you'll be happy with the results.

Oh I understand this, but often the addition of acids to many stews is done in an attempt to make up for overcooking and the resultant blandness - such as a beef stew cooked in a crock-pot on high for 12 hours while someone is at work.

I sometimes braise chicken quarters in a thai-style red curry, and then spike it with some lime juice at the end - looking for that particular flavor profile.

But when it comes to a good western braised beef (similar to a Bourgogne or New England Pot Roast) I find that the wine I add (along with proper-length cooking) results in the proper flavor profile without the addition of vinegar or citrus at the end.

"Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators."

- MacGyver

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I have a few friends who think cilantro is the most vile thing and would rather starve than eat it, I wonder why there is just a huge difference in taste preference.

I think this is truly a genetic issue, whereby those with a certain gene taste soap when they taste cilantro. Much the same way I cannot bear to be near a vase of paperwhites (white narcissus?). To me, they smell like a mixture of flea powder and another substance I choose not to mention. To others, they smell fine.

My wife experiences a similar effect with daffodils, which I consider to have the most benign, spring-like smell possible. If she smelled what I do, there's no way they would repulse her. But it must be genetic. She likes paperwhites fine.

My stepmother cannot stand even a bit of cilantro.

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I have a few friends who think cilantro is the most vile thing and would rather starve than eat it, I wonder why there is just a huge difference in taste preference.

I think this is truly a genetic issue, whereby those with a certain gene taste soap when they taste cilantro. Much the same way I cannot bear to be near a vase of paperwhites (white narcissus?). To me, they smell like a mixture of flea powder and another substance I choose not to mention. To others, they smell fine.

My wife experiences a similar effect with daffodils, which I consider to have the most benign, spring-like smell possible. If she smelled what I do, there's no way they would repulse her. But it must be genetic. She likes paperwhites fine.

My stepmother cannot stand even a bit of cilantro.

Is it possible that they are supertasters?

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Is it possible that they are supertasters?
Nah, at least not me. I eat things I'd never admit here. Call them comfort foods and don't ask further. I'm utterly unqualified to be a surpertaster. Cilantro really is different to me and the others who get the soap taste thing.

I suspect there are degrees. The fact that another person tastes the soap thing, but is not utterly put off by it makes me suspect cilantro's soap thing is genetic in the amplitude of the soap taste. For that person, mild. For me, the soap is so strong it feels like a violent assault on my mouth. Did I not know it is a genetic thing and that some actually love the stuff, I'd think someone maliciously tampered with my meal. Given how many people find cilantro deeply unpleasant, I don't understand it sometimes being served without warning. I would never order it in anything knowingly.

But on the brightening of stew, so that I'm not hijacking this worthy thread, a touch of acid and a last instant addition of parsley or similar is my best way.

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When I first moved to the southwest and tried my first true salsa made with cilantro, I couldn't believe people would eat stuff that tasted like soap! But then, something weird happened, the soapiness l tasted tapered off, I'd say it took a couple years. I didn't actively seek out eating cilantro, it's in most restaurant table salsas here. Now, a couple decades later, I love it, I don't taste soap at all, I get the citrusy tang. I use it in salads, soups, and occasionally put a sprig in my lemonade. I guess it might be possible to out-grow the soapy reaction. Or our tastebuds might change, who knows?

(bit of a thread-jack, sorry :cool: )

Edited by lemniscate (log)
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