How to Make a Great Beef Stew
First, I look up the dish in several cookbooks and read about the essential ingredients and what cooking techniques are involved. You'd be surprised at the number of ways there are to make the same dish.
Next, I see what's on hand in my refrigerator and pantry and put together ashopping list. The beauty of a preparing stew is the flexibility it gives you with ingredients -- it's another "what's on hand" dish.
Best Cut of Beef for Beef Stew
This recipe is for beef chuck (from the shoulder) and vegetable stew, but you could easily substitute veal, pork, or chicken. Because stewing tenderizes tough pieces of meat, you can save a buck by purchasing less expensive cuts from the rump, shoulder, and legs.
Remember, all meat is essentially muscle and those muscles less used by the animal will be more tender but typically less flavorful. Meat from the more exercised muscles will be tough but have more flavor.
So it's important to use the proper cooking technique with the specific cut of meat. Check out the beef charts at How to Buy a Great Steak.
This is an easy recipe to prepare but involves a lot of prep time. It's best to get all the ingredients ready before you start. The French call this " mise en place" (MEEZ ahn plahs) or "everything in its place."
This is how professional chefs do it and I suggest you incorporate it into your cooking practice. This recipe also calls for wine and I suggest you use decent one. Remember, "never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink!"
- 8 slices bacon
- 2½ pounds beef chuck boneless, cut into 1-inch pieces
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 leeks chopped, well rinsed - use white part & 1 inch of the green
- 6 carrots peeled & cut into 1½ inch julienne
- 2 turnips peeled and cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2½ cups beef stock
- 2½ cups red wine drinkable wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons red currant jelly
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 2 cups pearl onions red or white
- 8 ounces mushrooms sliced - wild if available
- 10 red new potatoes quartered
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- Cook the bacon in a large saute pan until the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon and transfer to a large heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. (approximately 5-6 quarts)
- Saute the beef in the same pan until all sides are browned. don't crowd the beef or it will steam the meat and not brown properly, so cook it in batches if necessary.
- Season with a little salt and pepper. When finished, transfer to your large cooking pot.
- Add the onions, leeks, carrots, and turnips to the saute pan, add sugar and cook over medium-high heat for approximately 8 minutes. Remove the vegetables and reserve in a large bowl.
- Add the butter to the saute pan and saute the mushrooms over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes. Transfer to the reserved vegetables.
- Add the wine to deglaze the saute pan. Be careful when doing this.
- Add the beef stock and whisk in the red currant jam, tomato paste, ½ the chopped parsley and rosemary. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add to the pot with the meat and bacon.
- Add the poatoes and garlic to the meat, bacon and cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Serve using the remaining parsley for garnish.