April 15, 2009

Basic Beef Stew in Photos

Posted in Soups & Stews tagged , , at 8:45 pm by jenniec00ks

So you’ve got at least 2-3 lbs of potatoes left; why not throw them in a classic, hearty beef stew?  I got this recipe out of Bon Appetit’s Keep It Simple cookbook and cooked up a batch in preparation for a busy weekend.  I must warn you, this’ll take a couple hours to make, but it’s definitely worth it.  Stew beef is pretty much any lean meat, since it’ll soften after a few hours of simmering.

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First we’ll flavor the base of the stew.  I’ve got 1.25 lbs, cut up into 1″ pieces on my bacteria-resistant cutting board while I warm up 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a 6 qt. stockpot over medium high heat.  You probably want to chop up 8 garlic cloves now too – you definitely want to use a different, clean board for this so you can use it for the root vegetables later.  I realize the knife I’m using for the garlic was a bit excessive, but it was the only one handy at the time.  Anyway, just lay the knife flat on the garlic clove, and give the side of the knife (avoid the sharp edge) a good whack, and the clove should pop right out of the paper.  Then just give ’em a rough chop, they’ll become more of a background flavor once melded in and not a bite like in the garlic-ricotta mashed potatoes we just made.

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Sear the beef on all sides so it’s got a nice color, then get the garlic in for a minute or two.  Then it’s time for the 8 cups of beef broth (that’s 2 of those boxes you see me pouring, or ~4 cans) and some more flavorings: a tablespoon (each) of sugar, dried thyme, and Worcestershire sauce, then 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, and 2 bay leaves (dried or fresh).  You’re supposed to use beef stock; but use whatever you can find in the grocery store that day.  I’ve been meaning to try some of the premade boxed stocks that I’ve seen in a few supermarkets – if you have please let me know if they’re worth it.

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By the way, brands of products are completely up to you, but I’m usually on a budget.  I inherited some of my spices from my previous roommates, so what you see may not always be the most economical.  You don’t always need to buy a bottle of a spice/herbs – if you just need a bit for one recipe look for a bulk bin at your local grocery store.  I’ve seen bulk spices & herbs at the Sprouts, Central Market, and H.E.B. in Texas metropolitan areas.  Cover the pot, let it come to a boil, then lower the heat so that it can simmer for the next hour (keep it covered, no peeking!).  Time for the veggies:

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beefstew-031Seven carrots, an onion, and six medium sized potatoes.  I’d say I used about 14 oz. of carrots (look for them in a bag, they’re cheaper that way), 8 oz. onion, and 2.5 lbs of potatoes.  You need to wash and use a vegetable peeler on the carrots and potatoes.  To prep the onion, cut the top and bottom off, stand it on a flat end, slice it in half, and peel away the paper layers.  Chop all the vegetables up in about 1″ pieces, however you can get them in 1″ pieces since I forgot to take pictures to show you how I do it.  😀  Next time guys.

beefstew-032Next we need to saute the vegetables with some butter over medium-high heat until they’ve got a slight brown color to them – you might need to do 2 batches like I did.  It took me 10-20 minutes per batch to get the veggies golden.  Then it’s everyone in the stockpot for the next 40 minutes, but this time simmering uncovered.  Below are some before and after pictures – they don’t look terribly different but the smell that fills your kitchen over that 40 minutes is amazing!  I enjoyed the rest of an NCIS episode in the meantime.  When it’s ready, you can skim a little of the fat/oil off the top if it bothers you, but don’t forget to pull the bay leaves before you serve!  And this tastes just as good, if not better, up to 2 days later after the flavors have all melded (if it lasts that long).  Enjoy!  PS, you clicky and can see bigger pictures of these last two.

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Before...

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Ready to eat!

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