Monday, January 31, 2011

Beef Stew a la Bittman

Beef Stew a la Bittman, originally uploaded by essgee51.
While I typically make stew the lazy way, this time I bothered to brown the meat. It made a big difference, and I'll definitely be making the time investment in the future. The stew turned out to be rich, comforting and flavorful, but next time I think I'll use a fattier cut of meat and up the umami quotient (perhaps with Worcestershire or soy sauce, anchovies and/or tomato paste). Recipe, with my modifications, below.
  • 2-4 tbsp. neutral oil (used grapeseed - started with 2 tbsp. but had to keep adding more because of the lean meat)
  • 2-1/2 lbs. stew beef, in chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed + 4-5 cloves (1 heaping tbsp.), chopped
  • 2 large onions, cut into eighths
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups liquid (used 2 cups beef broth from a very good concentrate I found + 1 cup red wine)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 6 small/medium potatoes, cut into 1-2 in. chunks (used Yukon Gold)
  • 5 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 in. chunks
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen peas and pearl onions
Heat large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high for 2-3 minutes;. Add oil, then wait another minute. Add crushed garlic clove, then remove once it begins to turn golden-brown, about a minute.

Brown meat, working in batches and seasoning the meat with salt and pepper as you go. Remove meat and reserve, then drain excess oil if necessary (wasn't in my case, since the beef was very lean).

Lower heat to medium. Cook onions, stirring often, till softened, about 10 minutes.

Add flour and stir till completely incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.

Return meat to pot. Add liquid, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Add carrots, potatoes and mushrooms to pot. Cool till vegetables are tender, anywhere from 30-60 minutes (closer to 60 on my finicky stove). Adjust texture of sauce to taste, adding liquid if you want it soupier and boiling for 5 or so minutes if you want to reduce it.

Add peas, pearl onions, chopped garlic. Simmer for another 10 or so minutes, till peas are warmed up and garlic has infused stew. Adjust seasoning, then serve.

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