Stout Rosemary Beef Stew
Hello Hello, anyone a little cold? Its been pretty damp, hanging around the freezing mark, raining… I don’t know but that sounds like good stew weather to me.
I’ve always used beef in my stews but man, I would love to try something a little different. Moose? Elk? Venison? I was talking with my buddy Dan the other day and we came to the same roundabout conclusion – we need to go hunting. I’ve never been but I love camping, fishing, the outdoors in general and I love food, especially when I feel like its “authentic’. I say authentic but I know that’s not the right word, but I can’t find the word for “as close to how nature had it worked out before” or “I want to eat animals that have had a life like they are supposed to, outside etc” and all that new-age hippie stuff.
But truly, I love this farm to table movement that is happening in the food world. I used to be a vegetarian and for a while, on my return to omnivorism, I would only eat free range organic meat which meant I would rarely eat meat but those preferences are still there.
Anyway, enough rambling about my preferences, hopefully you’re looking for a good recipe for beef stew. Well, here it is:
good hunk of beef, I used a roast that was on sale but the pre-cut stewing beef is fine too
1 large red onion, rough chopped
4 strips of good, smokey bacon
3 large carrots, cut into good sized hunks
3 stalks celery, also cut into good hunks
1 bottle of beer, preferably a stout, porter or dark ale
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
5-7 fingerling potatoes, cut into half inch squares
rosemary, 1 sprig, stripped and roughly chopped
s + p
1. I start by prepping the meat – if your beef isn’t already, cut into roughly 1 inch cubes, maybe a tad smaller. Pat dry with a paper towel, season and toss with a bit of flour to coat.
2. In a large pot, with a tsp of so of oil, start the bacon on med. to med. high heat
3. When the bacon is crisped, pull from pot, put aside and chuck in your beef. Only one layer, don’t crowd the pot! I have to do the beef in 3 batches. Then, don’t touch! Leave it for a couple minutes and check – if its nice and brown and caramelized, flip them all over and do it again. I usually get about 2 or 3 sides done then I’ll take them out, put them aside in a bowl and start the next round.
4. Careful here – the bottom of the pot collects a ton of flavour when browning the meat. Stuff’ll stick to the bottom, flavourful stuff, but because I have to do the meat in batches it sits there for a long time and has a tendency to burn. What I’ll do is scrape the bottom between batches and toss the scrapings in with the meat. If I don’t do this, I’m screwed. If anyone knows of a way to prevent this I’d love to hear it!
5. Anyway, after all the meat is done I’ll chuck in the onions, stir ‘em around for a while to help pull off some of the caramelization from the bottom so it doesn’t burn and then add the celery and carrots as well. Let those sweat for a few minutes, toss in the garlic (I just rough chop it or sometimes whole, depends on the day I guess) and the rosemary, let that mingle another few minutes then add all the meat (beef and bacon) followed by the beer and only enough water to just cover everything.
6. The beer and water will pull off the rest of the goodness stuck on the bottom of the pot so help it out by scraping the entire surface and once your stew comes to a boil, turn it down until it juuuuust simmers, cover with the lid askew and leave it for a couple hours. Well, check on it periodically, maybe stir it, taste it, love it, but basically you’re done for a couple hours.
7. The time when the potatoes go in depends on how long you’ll be cooking the stew (I would recommend at least 3 hours, preferably four total cooking time). Usually 30 – 40 minutes is plenty for the potatoes. I’ll check the meat, if its close to being done I’ll throw in the potatoes and tell everyone dinner is ready in 45.
8. When the potatoes are done (fork tender) I will finish the stew by adjusting the seasoning and thickening it. I know I should probably cook or bake it uncovered to get that really rich full flavourful gravy, but sometimes its too heavy and doesn’t feed enough people so I’ll mix some flour in some cold water, stir it into my stew and continue stirring it until the stew boils and, hopefully, thickens. Cook it a few more minutes after that so it doesn’t taste like flour, drop in a knob of butter (2 tbsp?) to give it a nice sheen, and you’re ready to serve.
9. To serve I will drop a handful of frozen peas on the bottom of the bowl and simply ladle the stew over top of it. The peas will defrost and cook perfectly by the time you’re ready to eat.
10. Serve with toast with lots of butter!