Beef Stew

beef stew with garlic bunBeef stew is one of the easiest things to make. Brown meat cubes, add veggies and liquid and let it cook slowly. Plan on a couple of hours of cooking time. Stew can be a one-pot meal, with potatoes in it, or served on a bed of rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

eye-of-round-steaksI like round or eye of round steaks for stewing beef. They have very little fat and you can easily slice or cube them. You can, of course, buy stewing beef. I find it’s more work because I remove the fat and cut the pieces smaller. However, any cheap cut of beef works, a blade roast or steak for example. The long cooking time makes the meat tender.

Stew Process, in short

  1. Brown meat cubes
  2. Add liquid
  3. Add barley, dense vegetables and dried herbs
  4. Let cook 30-40 mins, add delicate vegetables
  5. Cook an hour, add wine and fresh herbs
  6. Let cook 30-40 mins. (Cook stew ‘bed’ if needed)

Stew Process, long version

Put a bit of oil in a deep wide pot, let it heat up, and add chopped onions and garlic. When they have started softening, put the meat cubes in. Stir to get them browned on all sides. (If it’s a teflon pan, you don’t need oil.)

Browning the meat

A) Put it in the pan as is or (b) coat it in seasoned flour first. If you do (b) put maybe 1/4 cup flour on a plate or in a plastic bag. Mix a bit of salt and pepper in. Put the meat pieces in the flour and stir around or shake to completely coat them. Then put the coated meat in the heated oil in your pot. Stir to ensure all sides are browned.

Add liquid, barley, dense vegetables

Start with a cup or two. Any vegetable or beef stock is best, but water will do. The cooking veggies and beef will make their own stock. But using stock adds to the flavour of your sauce.

Stir a handful of barley into the liquid. It needs a long time to fully cook. Barley thickens stew wonderfully. I don’t add barley if I’m putting the stew on top of a starch. It makes it too dense.

Add potatoes (cut up if large or whole if very small) and chopped carrots. They take the longest to cook. Add any other dense vegetable, like brussels sprouts, now as well.

If you want a tomato-ey stew, add a can of whole or diced tomatoes.

Dried herbs, seasonings

Put in 1 or 2 bay leaves. Add dried herbs like basil or oregano as well. If you’re using fresh herbs, leave them until the final half hour of cooking. Add salt and pepper, a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce and a dollop of ketchup. Simmer for 30-40 mins.

Add soft vegetables

beef-stew-cookingBy now, the potatoes and carrots should be softening. Time to add your other coarsely chopped vegetables. Celery, green and/or red pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini – whatever you fancy. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, either cherry or chopped, add them too. I add these vegetables later because they are softer and more delicate. You don’t want to cook them to mush.

Now just let it cook for maybe an hour. Add more liquid if it needs it or if you want a thinner sauce.

Red wine, fresh herbs

This is the time to add red wine, both as a flavour agent and a source of liquid. Also add fresh herbs.

If the sauce is too thin, mix up a couple teaspoons of flour in a tablespoon or so of cold water. Stir well to remove lumps and mix slowly in the stew. Or shake in some blending flour, stirring to avoid lumps.

Let it cook another 30 minutes, and it should be done. You’ll see a thin film on the top, almost like a glaze.

Stew more or less cooks itself and it’s remarkably versatile. You can add whatever you have in the way of vegetables. Or if you like meaty stew, you can leave all vegetables out. I’d still put in onions and garlic, though. You can make chicken stew instead of beef, or leave out the meat entirely and make it vegetarian or vegan. Just change the type of stock you use.

Corrie Street 4 Mar. 2018

Helpful Hints

Monday and Tuesday episodes were like Hints from Heloise – what to do and what not to do.

1. Empty pockets before doing a wash.helpful hints summer puts hoodie in washer

Summer puts clothes in the laundry, including Billy’s hoodie. We know he never lets it out of his sight. It’s comfortable and it’s also where he keeps his painkillers. But he’s asleep. After he wakes and she’s gone and the laundry is done, he finds it in the washer. Only the pill package remains in the pocket. The painkillers dissolved into the water system.billy-finds-dissolved-pills

2. Why let perfectly good flowers go to waste?

craig-bins-rosesCraig put the beautiful roses he’d bought Bethany in the garbage bin. And just then Jude came along, holding a couple Valentine’s balloons.

jude-with-rosesWhat would go well with red heart-shaped balloons? Red roses. Will they do it? Yes! Next we see him, Jude’s walking off-screen with the balloons and the roses. Good man! Just don’t tell Angie!

3. “Proper disposal” of medication is not down the sink.

eva-holds-pills-that-billy-wantsEva finds the dodgy pills that Adam gave Billy. He says they’re an old prescription he found way back in the cupboard, way way back. He’ll put them in the bin, he says. She’s not letting him touch them, so says she’ll do it properly. Down the sink. No no no! See #1. They contaminate the water system. Take them to a pharmacy where they will do whatever they do to safely dispose of them.

4. Keep track of your kids so we can too.

liz-surprisedLiz is shocked to see that the new doctor at the medical clinic is Michelle’s son. So am I. I had to google to find out which one Alex is. Is he the biological son or the one she raised?

alex-or-aliEither way, I’d hoped we’d never see either of them again. It was a horrible ‘switched at birth’ story that was soapy both in construction and presentation – complete with recasting at the time and again now. So the present face wouldn’t help even if you could, or wanted to, remember Alex.