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Beef stew beginner


DanM
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I have to admit that I am not a beef eater. However, my parents and my mother-in-law are coming next weekend for my daughter's birthday and I want to make them beef stew. I have never made beef stew before... where to start??

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Get a chuck roast, not pre-cut "stew meat". Cut the roast into about 3/4 to 1-inch cubes, trimming the excessive fat, and trimming around any connective tissue or tendons that may run through the roast. Leave some fat, though, to enrich the sauce.

Season the meat cubes and flour them lightly. Brown them in batches in hot olive oil, in a Dutch oven or Le Cruset-type pan, and remove as they brown. Brown them really, really well. Toss in your mire poix, and saute, scraping up the fond. Add some garlic, and saute until it's fragrent. Deglaze with red wine and bring to a boil. Toss in a bouquet garni (thyme sprigs, bay leaf, parsley, maybe rosemary). Put the meat back into the pan, add beef stock/canned broth to cover, and either simmer slowly on the stove top, or put into a 300-325° oven for about an hour and a half or so. Add potatoes, I usually like Yukon Golds or Russets, peeled and cut into cubes about the same size as the meat. Add chunks of peeled carrots, also about 1-inch. Add more stock/broth if needed, return to the simmer or the oven until the meat and veg are tender, about one hour more.

Remove the pan from the oven, add frozen pearl onions and frozen peas (no need to defrost). Cover and let the frozen veg heat through (maybe another 15-20 minutes). Or you can put in fresh onion wedges when you add the carrots and potatoes. If you want to thicken the sauce, stir in some beurre manie and blend well. You could add some quartered mushrooms, that have been sauteed in butter, at the same time you add the pearl onions and peas if you want.

Cut some good, crusty bread, pour some more of the red wine, and enjoy. Pure comfort food.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Pierogi nails it w/ that recipe. I have a subtle variation that I find gives a richer sauce. Saute your meat making sure not to burn the fond (med heat w/ my equip.) Once the meat is cooked check to see that there is a nice thick dark brown fond. If not, then take some of your beef stock and cook down until it dries and creates a nice fond. Saute mushrooms while scraping up the fond and remove when browned and then saute onions or mirepoix if using then add red wine and boil over high heat until reduced by half. Add beef and beef stock to cover, follow pierogi's instructions. I also like to do dumplings when the beef is done, no need or beurre manie as the dumplings will thicken the sauce by absorbing some of the liquid and release of some the flour into the liq.

Tom Gengo

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Thanks for the responses. A few of questions though. What type of wine do you recommend? I assume a dry red? Is there a beer alternative? (More my style) And I assume I use enough wine and beef broth to cover? What ratio of wine to stock/broth?

Fond?? Can you explain that to me a little more? I am not familiar with it.

Finally, I assume I can vary the vegetables? I might make a run to a local winter farmer's market and pick up a few things. I would not be surprised to find some nice winter root veg.

Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Thanks for the responses. A few of questions though. What type of wine do you recommend? I assume a dry red? Is there a beer alternative? (More my style) And I assume I use enough wine and beef broth to cover? What ratio of wine to stock/broth?

I've been known to make beef stew with Chimay, La Fin du monde or other Belgian-style ale instead of wine. You may want to change the spicing if you go that route (less bay leaf, more clove, in my opinion).

If you do go the wine route, then a dry red, not too fruit-forward, is a good way to go. For a stew, you want fairly copious liquid, so enough wine and broth to cover. You can use a variety of ratios; I sometimes go as high as half and half.

The only amendment I would offer to Pierogi's recipe above would be to toe Ruhlman's line on boxed or canned broth: just don't do it. If you don't have homemade or good butcher-made stock available, use a higher proportion of wine or beer, and use water for the remaining liquid. And don't forget to season with salt and pepper!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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The only amendment I would offer to Pierogi's recipe above would be to toe Ruhlman's line on boxed or canned broth: just don't do it.

And some of us are adamantly against using frozen onions.

Me.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Finally, I assume I can vary the vegetables? I might make a run to a local winter farmer's market and pick up a few things. I would not be surprised to find some nice winter root veg.

Yes you can. I've found though that using a lot of parsnips or turnips will affect the taste of the braising liquid, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how much you like them. carrots and potatoes are more neutral.

I tend to use the onions chopped as part of the mirepoix and not add pearl onions or peas.

Fond?? Can you explain that to me a little more? I am not familiar with it.

Fond is the brown crust that forms on the bottom of the pan when you brown the meat. It contains a lot of flavor so you want to liquefy it into the braising liquid. This can happen when you saute the mirepoix and the vegetables give up liquid and/or when you add the stock and wine.

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Thanks for the responses. A few of questions though. What type of wine do you recommend? I assume a dry red? Is there a beer alternative? (More my style) And I assume I use enough wine and beef broth to cover? What ratio of wine to stock/broth?

I've been known to make beef stew with Chimay, La Fin du monde or other Belgian-style ale instead of wine. You may want to change the spicing if you go that route (less bay leaf, more clove, in my opinion).

I'll stick with wine. While I prefer beer, I need to keep in mind who will actually be eating it.

Fond?? Can you explain that to me a little more? I am not familiar with it.

Fond is the brown crust that forms on the bottom of the pan when you brown the meat. It contains a lot of flavor so you want to liquefy it into the braising liquid. This can happen when you saute the mirepoix and the vegetables give up liquid and/or when you add the stock and wine.

Ah, I know it simply as crispy brown goodness stuck to the pan. :)

Unless the stew is going to be a surprise, you might want to ask your family what type of veggies they would like. My family likes a potato, carrot, and onion combination. I throw in the peas because I like them. :laugh:

I worked hard on it, so they can file their complaints under SUAEI. ;)

Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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The only amendment I would offer to Pierogi's recipe above would be to toe Ruhlman's line on boxed or canned broth: just don't do it.

And some of us are adamantly against using frozen onions.

Me.

Well, now that I reread this, that sounds a little strong.

I guess I'm not "adamantly against" frozen onions. That's kind of silly, isn't it. I mean, I don't have a moral issue with it or something. Won't launch a protest or start a petition. And if I were ever so lucky as to be invited to Pierogi's home for beef stew, I'm sure I'd lap it up gratefully and enjoy every toothsome mouthful. And ask for seconds.

I just personally very much prefer the taste of fresh onions.

Is all.

As I should have said.

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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'll stick with wine. While I prefer beer, I need to keep in mind who will actually be eating it.

I'd add on the wine vs. beer question, that I've found almost impossible to screw up a stew using wine. Using a strongly flavored beer a la Guinness, I've found a bit trickier to do as the reduced beer can overwhelm the flavor of the rest of the stew. I've never tried Chimay, but if you were going to go with a stout, I suggest finding a recipe to get the flavor balance right.

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I'll stick with wine. While I prefer beer, I need to keep in mind who will actually be eating it.

I'd add on the wine vs. beer question, that I've found almost impossible to screw up a stew using wine. Using a strongly flavored beer a la Guinness, I've found a bit trickier to do as the reduced beer can overwhelm the flavor of the rest of the stew. I've never tried Chimay, but if you were going to go with a stout, I suggest finding a recipe to get the flavor balance right.

One of our favorite winter dishes is Flemish beef stew - carbonade. This classic is made with beer. I kind of make my own version, but it's similar to this one: Beef & Beer Stew

And there's a terrific recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art - Carbonnades a la Flamande.

About the beer she says: "Beer is typical for the Belgian braise, and gives a quite different character to beef than the red wine of the bourguignon. A bit of brown sugar masks the beer's slightly bitter quality, and a little vinegar at the end gives character."

Not sure this would suit your purposes this time, Dan, but it's a great, great dish. One of the world's classics.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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If you do go the wine route, then a dry red, not too fruit-forward, is a good way to go. For a stew, you want fairly copious liquid, so enough wine and broth to cover. You can use a variety of ratios; I sometimes go as high as half and half.

The only amendment I would offer to Pierogi's recipe above would be to toe Ruhlman's line on boxed or canned broth: just don't do it. If you don't have homemade or good butcher-made stock available, use a higher proportion of wine or beer, and use water for the remaining liquid. And don't forget to season with salt and pepper!

Agree. And I'll also add that I've had a lot of success using wine only. No water or stock (though chicken stock does work too if you don't have beef).

nunc est bibendum...

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I'll stick with wine. While I prefer beer, I need to keep in mind who will actually be eating it.

I'd add on the wine vs. beer question, that I've found almost impossible to screw up a stew using wine. Using a strongly flavored beer a la Guinness, I've found a bit trickier to do as the reduced beer can overwhelm the flavor of the rest of the stew. I've never tried Chimay, but if you were going to go with a stout, I suggest finding a recipe to get the flavor balance right.

This is a good point (although it may be moot if the OP has decided on wine anyway). Working with a hoppy, bitter beer like Guinness can be tough. It's a fair bit easier with a sweeter, more malty beer.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'll stick with wine. While I prefer beer, I need to keep in mind who will actually be eating it.

I'd add on the wine vs. beer question, that I've found almost impossible to screw up a stew using wine. Using a strongly flavored beer a la Guinness, I've found a bit trickier to do as the reduced beer can overwhelm the flavor of the rest of the stew. I've never tried Chimay, but if you were going to go with a stout, I suggest finding a recipe to get the flavor balance right.

One of our favorite winter dishes is Flemish beef stew - carbonade. This classic is made with beer. I kind of make my own version, but it's similar to this one: Beef & Beer Stew

And there's a terrific recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art - Carbonnades a la Flamande.

About the beer she says: "Beer is typical for the Belgian braise, and gives a quite different character to beef than the red wine of the bourguignon. A bit of brown sugar masks the beer's slightly bitter quality, and a little vinegar at the end gives character."

Not sure this would suit your purposes this time, Dan, but it's a great, great dish. One of the world's classics.

Okay, you have me sold. It sounds good to me and my wife. It will also go well with a bottle of Oud Bruin I brewed for my daughter before she was born. Her birthday is a week from Monday, so it will be a good occasion to crack one open.

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I'll stick with wine. While I prefer beer, I need to keep in mind who will actually be eating it.

I'd add on the wine vs. beer question, that I've found almost impossible to screw up a stew using wine. Using a strongly flavored beer a la Guinness, I've found a bit trickier to do as the reduced beer can overwhelm the flavor of the rest of the stew. I've never tried Chimay, but if you were going to go with a stout, I suggest finding a recipe to get the flavor balance right.

One of our favorite winter dishes is Flemish beef stew - carbonade. This classic is made with beer. I kind of make my own version, but it's similar to this one: Beef & Beer Stew

And there's a terrific recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art - Carbonnades a la Flamande.

About the beer she says: "Beer is typical for the Belgian braise, and gives a quite different character to beef than the red wine of the bourguignon. A bit of brown sugar masks the beer's slightly bitter quality, and a little vinegar at the end gives character."

Not sure this would suit your purposes this time, Dan, but it's a great, great dish. One of the world's classics.

Okay, you have me sold. It sounds good to me and my wife. It will also go well with a bottle of Oud Bruin I brewed for my daughter before she was born. Her birthday is a week from Monday, so it will be a good occasion to crack one open.

Wow. Well, it's not a traditional American-style 'beef stew' but I don't think you can go wrong. It's a truly wonderful dish, and a great one to have in your repertoire. I first made the one in MTAOFC many, many years ago. It's still a good one to follow. But I add a pinch of nutmeg to Julia's recipe. (Although I knew it was presumptuous of me and, not wishing to offend, I always figured I'd leave that out if she came to dinner.)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'll put in my nickel's worth for carbonnades a la flamande. I first made mine with Newcastle, loved it, so that's what I use. Caramelize a boatload of onions (about four); set them aside and brown the beef, which you've salted, peppered and dredged in flour. Add the onions back, pour in a bottle of your beer o'choice and add a cup or so of beef stock. Or forget the beef stock and use all beer. Clap on the lid and braise, really low, for 3 or 4 hours. Stir in a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of spicy brown mustard.

It's good over buttered egg noodles, but transcendent over spaetzle.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I'll put in another vote for the Carbonnade. When I had it in Belgium the best ones were made with Lambics - either Kriek (cherry) or Framboise (raspberry) so that's what I use. I do mine in the slow cooker - you can see the recipe on my blog (link below).

Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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Regarding the amount of braising liquid, I try to limit it. I keep the liquid about 1/2 way up the side of the meat, place a piece of foil over the pan, push the middle down and place on the lid. The logic here is that the evaporated liquid will condense and drip back onto the meat and slowly dissolve the unctuous connective tissue into the braising liq. Additionally, when the meat is cooked, the liquid is much more concentrated since you started w/ less at the beginning.

Tom Gengo

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Regarding the amount of braising liquid, I try to limit it. I keep the liquid about 1/2 way up the side of the meat, place a piece of foil over the pan, push the middle down and place on the lid. The logic here is that the evaporated liquid will condense and drip back onto the meat and slowly dissolve the unctuous connective tissue into the braising liq. Additionally, when the meat is cooked, the liquid is much more concentrated since you started w/ less at the beginning.

Agreed for a whole-cut braise, but for stew, to my mind, you want a fair amount of liquid. I think of a stew as being halfway between a braise and a soup. Not to say that the meat and veggies should be swimming in liquid, but I would always fill to more than halfway, since the meat is cut into smaller chunks.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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