As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t exactly been posting much in my dusty corner of the internets. I’d like to say that it is because I am just so super busy I barely have the time to cook for myself, forget teaching the rest of cyberspace.
But that would be a lie. A dirty, dirty lie.
The truth is, I’m lazy. I’m lazy and I’m really picky about the pictures I take, which usually means that by the time I’m cooking anything it is dark outside and my pictures are crap and I don’t want to post them. So, in recognition of this extreme condition, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts, hereby dubbed “The Lazy Blogger”, until I can come up with a better name. If I ever do.
Posts titled with the “The Lazy Blogger” will be ones with incomplete pictures, often of only the finished product. Hopefully this will shame me into writing more, and eventually doing this right.
So to kick it off we’ve got a lovely recipe for Belgian beef stew. I made this one night for some friends on Geek Movie Night. Yeah, it’s a thing. We were headed off to see The Green Hornet and I was feeling fancy so I offered to cook. I found this recipe in a giant tome known as “The Complete Meat Cookbook”. I had been given this by a friend as a thank you gift for hosting her bridal shower years ago. I was hesitant about trying this because the authors describe it as having a sort of “sweet and sour” taste (and who wants their stew to taste like Chinese food?) but it turned out to be amazing. Also, I love dark beer so this turned out to be a win-win. Beer in my food and beer in my mouth. Yum.
Like most things I make, I think this is crazy-easy. Yes, there are directions you should probably follow, but you’re essentially just throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting them simmer for a few hours. Nothing easier than that my friend.
Belgian Beef Stew (from The Complete Meat Cookbook)
2 TB olive oil
3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-3 in chunks and trimmed of fat (I used beef shoulder london broil and it was amazing. Just make sure you pick something cheap with lots of fat and cartilage).
Salt and pepper
2 lbs onions, halved and thinly sliced
7 carrots, 5 cut into a small dice and 2 cut into large chunks (the dice is added first for flavor, then you add the chunks later in the cooking process).
1/4 lb prosciutto or smoked ham, diced
2 tb chopped garlic
1.5 lbs mushrooms, sliced
1 12 oz bottle of dark beer. I used Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. Pick something that is dark but not too hoppy.
2 C beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Heat the oil over high heat. It helps if you have a dutch oven, but just use the biggest pot you have. You will use the same pot for the whole recipe so you need something pig enough to hold the meat, veggies, and the liquid. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear it on all sides in the pan, in batches if necessary. You don’t want to crowd the meat or it won’t brown. Remove the meat and set aside.
Put the onions in the pot, cover, and lower the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the diced carrots (reserve the chunks!), prosciutto, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5-6 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Put the meat back into the pot and add the beer, stock to cover (you might need a tiny bit more or less), thyme, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 1.5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender (meaning you can cut it apart with just a fork).
Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside again. Add the carrot chunks and boil until the carrots are tender and the liquid has a syrupy consistency. You don’t want to boil all of the liquid down, though, so you should watch the pot. Lower the heat if necessary, or add more stock. You still want the liquid to be able to cover most of the ingredients, if that makes sense. Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.
So, to go with my delicious stew, I made mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are super-easy. I don’t use a recipe I basically just mash them. I will attempt to describe my method below.
1-2 lbs potatoes
Milk or cream
Salt and pepper
Garlic if you want
Cheese if you want
Grab your potatoes. I like to use the little yellow ones, but you can use whatever you want really. I use about a pound of potatoes for 3 people, so just go with that and choose how many you think you need. If you want to, peel them. I only do this when I want the mashed potatoes to be very smooth, or when I am using regular russet potatoes. I don’t think the russet potato skins are very good. For the stew I peeled the potatoes. Then, after you’ve decided if you’re going to peel or not, cut the potatoes into chunks. You should get at least 6-8 potato chunks per potato. Put all of the potato chunks into a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil until you can put a fork through one of the potato chunks without getting any resistance. This usually takes at least 20-30 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and put back into the pot. Add some milk, butter, and salt and pepper, and mash. I have a potato mashed (one of the hand-held ones) and an immersion blender. Usually I use the potato masher to achieve a chunkier consistency, but I wanted these to be very smooth so I used the immersion blender. You don’t need either of these things. If you have done your job right and the potatoes are cooked through you should be able to mash them with a fork. Anyway, so mash them about until you have hit a consistency you like. Add butter and/or milk if needed. Taste and add salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder, and/or some cheese. I put all of these things in my stew mashed potatoes.
Then, to serve the stew, put a serving of mashed potatoes in a bowl or plate, make a hollow in the center, and scoop some stew into the hollow. Yummmmm.
This was so amazing, you don’t even know. The meat was like meat butter it was so tender. So go forth and make yourself some stew! If you’re in New England you need it, seeing as it won’t stop effing snowing here.