Saturday, February 1, 2020

No compromise beef stew

There are a thousand ways to cook up a beef stew, this one calls for plenty of red wine and a better cut of beef, without compromise! Instead of the usual stew grade of beef, we use either a rib roast or rib-eye cut to get a better tasting meat but retaining the added flavor of the fat.
Included is a party version for 25 guests where the ingredients measures and proportions can help you fine tune the seasonings for the small version.

The meat:

2 lbs / 1 kg of well marbled quality beef or a rib roast or rib-eye cut. The meat near the rib is the best for a tasty stew.

The prep:

Cut larger cubes as they retain their juices better, like 2 inches / 5 cm cubes. However bite-size cubes are more practical for the party version so that you can skip the knives.

Brown the meat in a heavy frying pan in very small batches (6-8 pieces) to keep the pan temperature high. Else the juices run out before the meat is seared.

Place all the seared meat into a large pot (cast-iron pot like Le Creuset works best), sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour and stir to coat evenly.

Add the following ingredients to the pot:
  • 1/2 cup / 1.5 dl Sauce claire - Cubes from the store also called "Au Jus".
  • 2 cups / 5 dl Red wine - Bordeaux or Sangiovese for a hardy stew, Pinot Noir for more aroma.
  • Half an Onion - Small or large to your preference, Thais like shallots instead.
  • 3/4 cup /300-400 g of carrots - Small ones are best.
Add seasoning (look at the party version for more accurate proportions):
  • 1/2 tsp dry Rosemary 
  • 1/2 tsp dry Oregano 
  • 1/4 tsp dry Basil 
  • 1/4 tsp dry Thyme 
  • 1/4 tsp dry Savory - optional, Americans and Brits especially like it
    - Fresh herbs are best of course: 1/2 cup fresh = 1 tbsp dry 
  • Black pepper - Whole corns crushed fresh is best
  • Salt to taste.
Cook on low for 1 hour semi-covered (to reduce some liquid). Stir often!

Add these remaining ingredients that should not cook long:
  • 1/2 lb / 200 g of fresh mushrooms quartered, not sliced! - Any mushroom type to your taste.
  • 1/4 cup of freshly chopped Parsley - A little more for Italian parsley (big leafs)
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic either pressed or chopped really fine.
Cook on low for another 30 minutes semi-covered (if you still need to reduce some liquid). Stir often! By now the volume should have reduced by a quarter to a third.

Serve with string beans or broccoli to complement the carrots and mushrooms in the stew. Steamed potatoes or noodles in the West, rice in Asia.

If you can plan ahead:
Let cool and refrigerate overnight. The sauce will gel better and the meat will pick up more seasoning flavor.

Ingredients for the party version - serves up to 25 (1/2 lb / 200 g of meat per person)
  • 10-11 lbs / 5 kg beef (see above).
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 3 cups / 7 dl Sauce claire or "Au Jus".
  • 2 liter Red wine - note that a standard bottle is 7.5 dl. not 1 liter!
  • 2-3 Onions - or 6 shallots if you serve Thais!
  • 4.5 lbs / 2 kg Carrots
  • 1 tbsp dry Rosemary 
  • 1 tbsp dry Oregano 
  • 1 tsp dry Basil 
  • 1 tsp dry Thyme 
  • 1 tsp dry Savory - optional, Americans and Brits especially like it
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 3 lbs / 1 to 1 1/2 kg of fresh mushrooms.
  • 1 cup of freshly chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 head of fresh Garlic.
You can freeze your stew, but you will lose some herb strength. Upon warming up, you will need to add some wine to smooth the mix and a dash of Tabasco to boost flavors back up.

Bon appetit!

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