Friday, March 23, 2012

Beef Stew: Kerith Style

My beef stew recipe is stored safely in my head. It is a combination of several different recipes, some probably involving Paula Deen and Emeril. But now, I mostly just grab what looks good, and throw it in one pot, letting it bubble away for a few hours.

You are going to need something reliable, sturdy, and beautiful to cook the stew. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I really do think my Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is gorgeous. This lady is 6 quarts of dependable, even heat and slow cooking.

You will also need beef. I'm lazy, and buy the pre-packaged beef stew cuts of sirloin from Publix (or Fry's, or wherever you shop, I'm sure they are sold!). If I'm being faithful to Paleo, I forgo the next step, and simply hit the meat with a little S&P (salt & pepper). On this particular day, I wasn't adhering to the Paleo lifestyle, and so if you are still loving you some grain, here is the next step.

Take a ziplock bag (gallon size capacity, zip top makes it easier) and put several tablespoons of flour in. My guess is around 1/2 a cup will be fine, but you may not need so much. Then, dump in all the seasoning you fancy. I use salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, etc. Whatever you like the taste of is probably fine, but there are some things that make more sense with Beef Stew.

Dump your meat into the bag - shake, stir, mush - get every piece coated with flour and seasoning. By this point, you should have a couple tablespoons of olive oil heated up in your beautiful cooking vessel. Take 1/2 your meat, and place it in the pot so you can begin browning the meat.

I placed my first batch of browned meat on a plate to the side while I browned the second batch. If  you overcrowd, the results are not as pleasing.

What the f*ck?! I think there are ghosts in my kitchen. The delightful, country-cottage-esque wooden shelving chose this moment to fall off the wall and land on the high chair where Johnny is usually eating. Holy Moly! Thank goodness I had some wine on hand to...

Deglaze the pan, of course (and to take the edge off, but apparently the wine drinking led to me forgetting to take a picture of that step). I used red wine - $2 Buck Chuck if I recall correctly. Just pour some into the pan/pot, and scrape up all the yummy bits!

Sorry, the yummy bits are out of focus. I blame the wine.

The next step involves other things I forgot to take pictures of. Basically, chop up some vegetables, throw in some broth (probably about 6 cups will suffice, but you may need 8, and I use the stock in a box that I purchase in bulk from Costco). As far as vegetables go, I like to use the holy trinity of carrot, potato and celery. Oh, I also use an ungodly amount of sweet onion, because I lurve them.

Where was I? Oh, yeah - chop up your veggies, dump them in, stir up the whole mess, re-season, and then pour in your broth.

I find that my stew needs about 2 hours on top of the stove before everything is edible (ie, veggies soft and meat tender) and that is also enough time to let the flavors kind of gel. Is "gel" a technical cooking term, or just a song by Collective Soul?

By the time we ate dinner, I must have found the bottom of that wine, because I forgot to take a picture of the finished product... but it really was delicious! And remember, if Kerith can cook, I swear you can, too. Ma & Pa In Law dined with me on the leftovers for lunch the next day, and they also said it was good! Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, those are baby carrots (because I hate cutting carrots!).

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