Monday, February 4, 2013

Stew...You Need Some

Well it's been awhile. Between having two different flu viruses and a cold, plus moving, I've been too sick and tired to cook for the past six weeks. I've been eating a lot of street tacos from the little Mexican place down the street, and more Chipotle burritos than is good for anyone. I'm also heartily sick of In-n-Out, and tired of turkey sandwiches. It's about time for some REAL food. 

It doesn't get any more "real" to me than beef stew. 


1 to 1 1/2 pounds of beef (or lamb) stew meat
1/4 cup of some kind of organic flour
1/4 cup of good olive oil or Irish butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped (don't peel them)
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
1 clove of garlic, whole
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon dried or fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried savory
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon A1 Sauce
1/2 cup tawny port
1-2 cups of warm water, just enough to cover the ingredients

Cut the stew meat into small even pieces and then toss them in the flour to coat. Heat the oil or butter up in a medium sized pot, and then brown the meat pieces over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes (you don't have to brown them evenly, just get some brown stickiness going on). Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside, and yes, you have to do that. 

Now you can throw in all of the chopped veggies, I like to chop them pretty small so they sort of melt into the stew. Plus I've noticed kids and grown men who are weird about eating cooked vegetables like it better that way. Put the salt and pepper in with the veggies, and cook them, still on medium-high heat, stirring frequently. After about ten minutes, add the tawny port and then let it heat heat up before you add the stew meat and juices back in and turn the heat down to simmer. 

Next, add the warm water, just enough to cover everything, and also add in all of the spices. Cook on a good simmer, on my stove it's about a 2, uncovered, stirring occasionally for at least one hour.  
Use a wooden spoon to stir, I swear it makes it taste better. 

You can cook the stew up to 1 1/2 hours, or even two, but if you go up to 2 hours, turn the heat down to a slow simmer after the first hour. More than two hours will dry the meat out, so don't leave it too long. 

Serve over mashed sweet potatoes (not yams, that would be sort of redundant with all the carrots) or mashed sunchokes.

You're a fool if you don't at least consider drinking a big mug of porter or stout with it. Tonight we're drinking Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout