Monday, February 10, 2014

Culinary Adventures: Beef-and-whatever-is-in-your-fridge Stew

I've made this beef stew twice now, and both times have been slightly different, depending on what veggies I had on hand in the refrigerator and freezer.  I guess that makes this more of a method than a recipe, since you can substitute in whatever you want; the treatment of the beef is the only thing that stays the same.

The second time I made this- which is when I took pictures for this post- it tasted...horrible.  There's no way around it.

So why am I sharing it with you, if it's horrible?

Because it's not the recipe's fault that it tasted bad, it's my fault.  The very last step is to REDUCE THE HEAT and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours; I forgot the reducing the heat part.  OOPS.  This resulted in a thick, burnt mess at the bottom of the pan, and dry meat, and an overall charred taste.

But you know what?  If I hadn't forgotten the heat-lowering bit, this would've tasted really, really good- I'm sure of it.  So I'm going to share the pictures and the steps with you, and encourage you to try it at home (and, you know, do it right).  And then come tell me what veggies you add to your rendition!

Beef-and-whatever-is-in-your-fridge Stew
inspired by Giada De Laurentiis

-1 bottle red wine (I use merlot)
-1lb cubed stew beef
-olive oil
-2 slices of bacon, sliced into lardons
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1C shredded carrots (I had a bag of shredded carrots, but you could also roughly chop some whole carrots)
-4 medium red potatoes, quartered
-1 package frozen pearl onions in cream sauce
-1 (12oz) bag frozen green beans
-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
-4C beef broth

-Place the cubed beef in a glass baking dish and pour in the entire bottle of wine.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours, then turn all the pieces over and marinate for another 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the beef from the pan and pat dry on some paper towels; reserve the wine.

-Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper.  Put some olive oil in a heavy pot- preferably a dutch oven- over medium-high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, then remove from the pot.

 -Add the bacon and cook until the fat starts to render and it starts to crisp.

-Add the garlic and cook until it starts to smell really good and the bacon finishes crisping up.

-Add all the veggies and stir it up for a few minutes.

-Pour in the reserved wine and the beef broth and stir- you should have a big pot of purple witch's brew, minus the eye of newt.  Bring to a boil, then REDUCE THE HEAT and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours with the lid on.

We rescued all the bits that weren't burnt and served it with a slice of French bread.  If you like your stew looser, simmer for less time and you'll have more broth.

And, obviously, don't burn yours.

Do you have a favorite winter stew recipe?

Much love,
The Geeks

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