Tag Archives: stew

The Lazy Blogger: Belgian Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes

27 Feb

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.

Mashed Potatoes

1-2 lbs potatoes

Milk or cream

Butter

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.

❤ Stef

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Recipe: Bouef Bourguignon

3 Apr

So I watched Julie & Julia the other day (I know I’m a bit late to the party) and Julia Child’s Bouef Bourguignon is elevated to some kind of magical cult status in that movie. It will ease your worries! Soothe your soul! Impress your friends, relatives, and newspaper columnists!!!!

So I kind of figured, geez. If this one dish can single handedly transform my life, why WOULDN’T I want to make it? And immediately, if not sooner. I found the recipe online and began my Saturday morning trek for the ingredients. I live across from a Whole Foods so most of the ingredients were not difficult to find, but I forced myself to venture to Trader Joe’s for the wine. I’m a “starving” grad student, and Boston liquor stores are a total effing ripoff for wine. I regularly find bottles of wine I would pay $5 for in a grocery store in California being peddled for $8-10 at your friendly neighborhood liquor store. Boo. TJs it was.

I gathered my ingredients. Beef, bacon, veggies, wine, broth, flour, seasonings. I looked at the instructions. SO MANY STEPS. I decide to take it slow, one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself, Steffany! You’re going to do this right! If Julia Child tells you to cook the mushrooms separately, you will cook them separately goddammit! You will remove the bacon to a plate before you cook the beef! None of your laziness!

So I do. And it takes FOUR HOURS. And I divided the recipe in fourths, so it would take at least six to make as written. In the third hour of cooking, I began to think to myself that the next time I went to a restaurant and they tried to charge me $20 for a serving of bouef bourguignon I would pay it gladly, because some poor schmuck had to stand in front of a stove for god knows how long making the damn thing. In the end, I had bouef bourguignon. I also had sore feet, an aching back, and I was slightly lightheaded (that was probably my fault – I didn’t eat all day because I was making something EPIC and didn’t want to spoil my appetite). It was good. Really good. And if you refrigerate the whole thing and wait until the next night, it will be really REALLY good. But I couldn’t help but think that there were much easier ways to make beef stew. There is one step that I will probably elect to skip should I ever make this dish again, and that is when you separate the broth from the meat and veggies after taking the whole thing out of the oven. I’m sure it’s there for a reason, but I found it wholly unnecessary (especially since you just turn around and add the broth BACK to the meat!) and kind of difficult. You’re supposed to pour the stew into a sieve set over a saucepan, set aside the meats, wash out the casserole, put the meats back in the casserole, simmer the liquid in the saucepan and add broth if it’s too thick, then put the liquid back in with the meats that you just separated it from. (AGH! WHY?)

I had actual homework to do that day. Instead, I made bouef bourguignon. Now, to be fair, it tastes different from any beef stew I have ever tasted. It is meant to go over boiled potatoes or rice or pasta, so it kind of has more of a ragu-like texture and is not particularly soup-y. I think it is worth trying, just be prepared to lose your day to it!

6 oz chunk of bacon

3 lbs lean stewing beef

1 sliced carrot

1 sliced onion

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 TB flour

3 C red wine, NOT cooking wine. In fact, you should never buy cooking wine. Only use a wine you would drink in your cooking. If you wouldn’t drink it, why in god’s name would you bother eating it??

2-3 C beef stock

1 TB tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

1 bay leaf

18-24 small white onions, brown basted in stock (we’ll go over this)

1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms, sauteed in butter

ALRIGHTY. Here we go.

Remove the rind from the bacon a cut it into sticks 1/4″ thick and 1.5″ long. I used bacon slices.

Simmer in a pot of water for 10 minutes, drain and dry. Heat your oven to 450˚. Saute the bacon in 1TB of olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Conserve the oil, that is what you will be browning the beef in.

Cut the stewing beef into 2″ pieces. Mine are probably more like 1″, but I wanted to trick myself into thinking there was more meat than there actually was. I do this a lot…!

Dry the beef in paper towels in order to ensure that it browns. Heat the oil until it is nearly smoking. Saute the beef in the oil a few pieces at a time until it is nicely browned on all sides. Add to the plate with the bacon.

Saute the carrot and onion in the same oil until they are browned.

Pour out any excess cooking fat, then return the beef and bacon to the pot with the veggies. Add the salt, pepper and flour and toss to combine. Set the casserole uncovered into the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Take the casserole out and stir the ingredients, then return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove and reduce heat to 325˚.

Stir in the wine and stock so that the meat is just covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer, then cover, take off the heat, and put in the oven. Allow to cook in the oven for 2.5 – 3 hours. Try to regulate the heat so that the stew is at a gentle simmer the entire time.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and the mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms into quarters and saute in butter (I used 1 TB for 1/4lb of mushrooms). You may not want to use all that butter, which is fine by me. You can always use olive oil instead, or an olive oil/butter mix. Mushrooms sauteed in butter are really, really good though! Maybe just this once, eh? Saute until they are browned and delicious looking. Set them aside until the meat is done.

You’re basically going to do the same thing with the onions. Mrs. Child says to brown-braise them in stock, but I the recipe I downloaded from some website didn’t have the page with those specific instructions on it. So I made it up, but it seems pretty authentic to me! Peel your onions and leave them whole. Saute them with butter and when they are starting to look a little brown, add some beef stock (I used 1/2 C stock for 9 pearl onions). Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then uncover and swirl the onions around so they get a nice deep brown color on their edges. Keep them aside with the mushrooms until the meat is ready.

This is when the recipe gets to the crazy part that I hate. The recipe says that, once the meat is done, to pour the contents into a sieve set over a saucepan. Mmkay. I used cheesecloth. That was a bad idea. Should you choose to follow this step, use a colander.

So you pour the meats into the colander/sieve/cheesecloth, separating the liquid from the meat. The liquid should all be in the saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the bacon and beef to it. Add the mushrooms and the pearl onions.

Return to the liquid, and simmer for a minute or two, skimming the fat off of the surface (I saw no fat. Maybe you will). You should have about 2.5 C of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon. If it is too thick, add some beef broth. If it is too thin, boil it down some.

Pour the sauce over the meat and veggies.

You are supposed to serve it over some boiled potatoes or, failing that, some rice or some buttered noodles. I was starving so I ate it with buttered bread.

Good luck and godspeed, my friends!

❤ Stef