Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Beef Stew

With the high cost of beef, beef stew becomes more attractive because it extends the beef and your meals costs go down.  Beef stew can be simple or really elaborate.  Mine is somewhere in the middle.

Swanson Flavor Boost (appears to be gluten free)
Pearl onions
1 1/2 pounds of ¾ inch cubed beef
Corn starch
2 whole gloves
2 Bay leaves
2 pounds of peeled potatoes
1 can of beef broth
1 cup of carrots
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
½ lb. of bacon
Fresh thyme

This is not a commercial, I don't often sing the praises of a product, but I have fallen in love with a new product called Swanson Flavor Boost.  It adds an intense chicken or beef flavor to your recipes and I’ve started using it in my stew and soups for extra flavor.  The old recipe called for 1-1/2 teaspoons of instant beef bouillon granules.  I now use 1 packet of the Flavor Boost instead. 

Stew Meat:  The best stew beef  has plenty of marbling and connective tissue to keep it from getting tough during the stewing process. As the fat and tissues slowly melt, they infuse the dish with natural beef flavor and tenderize it. If the stew beef is too lean, it will turn chewy and unpalatable and if it is cut from a tender part of the cow, it will disintegrate during cooking.  Remember that fat equals flavor.   Most stew beef is cut from beef chuck or any tough cut of beef will work.  Avoid top round cuts, as they are too delicate to withstand long cooking. Boneless beef short ribs are also good choices for stewing.  If a nice marbled cheap cut of beef is on sale, I'll buy it and cut it up myself.

Additions:  My mother likes to put barley in her beef stew.  Some people like to add peas, white bean, or green beans.  The idea of stew is that you can add anything you heart desires.  I’ve seen a recipe that called for beer or red wine in the stew.  You can also add dumplings to really take it over the top.

Brown your bacon in a large stock pot or Dutch oven.  Take bacon out and put on a paper towel.  Using a kitchen scissor, cut the bacon into ¾ inch pieces.  Salt and pepper your beef and then coat your beef cubes with corn starch, shaking off all of the excess.  Let it sit a little to dry out.  Place enough to cover the bottom of your pot with the bacon drippings.  Brown the cubs on all sides.  Do not over crowd the pan.  You will need to do this again until all of the beef is browned.  Place the browned beef on a plate and do the next batch. 

While browning the meat start a boiling pan of water.  Drop your pearl onions into the boiling water for 1 minute.  Take out them out to cool.  You can pull the skins off easily.  Clean the onion and set aside. 

Peel your potatoes if you like them peeled (I like my skins on) and carrots and cut into cubes about ¾ inch.  Clean your mushrooms with a wet paper towel and chop them in half. 

When your meat is browned, put your onions and mushrooms in the bottom of the pan you browned the bacon and beef in.  Add 2 Tbs. of oil if needed.   Brown the onions and mushroom nicely.  Add your browned beef cubes, beef broth and chopped bacon. Make sure everything is covered with broth.  Add your Flavor Boost and your Worcestershire sauce.  Add two gloves and 2 bay leaves.  You will pull them out before serving.  Taste and check for seasoning.  Add  your salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally.  When the meat is really tender, you can add the carrots and potatoes.  Cover the pan with a lid.

Gluten:  If you have to worry about gluten leave out the Worcestershire sauce.  It could have gluten in it.  Also double check your canned beef broth.  It often has gluten also.  I try to make my own or use water instead.  The beef and veggies will flavor the water.  Read your labels carefully.

Simmer slowly for about another 30 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender.  If it gets too thick add more water. 

Pull out the 2 gloves and bay leaves before serving.  You may garnish with fresh thyme.  Serve with a crusty piece of bread or a warm biscuit to soak up all of the gravy or you may drop dumplings on the stew just before finishing (For simple dumplings use the recipe on the Bisquick box and add chopped fresh thyme to the dumpling batter).  Or you can serve the stew over rice or buttered noodles.  It is warm, filling, tasty, and a complete meal in itself.  Hope you enjoy it.  Play with it as I did and make it your own.  

Tomorrow I'm going to talk about sandwich making.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

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