Tag Archives: stew

Beef in Brine

beef in brine package photo d stewartI accidentally made Jigg’s dinner for St. Patrick’s Day. First time ever. Husband comes home with groceries: “look what I found, beef 50% off.” Beef in brine, the package said. What’s that?

It was pieces, so didn’t look like corned beef. Big pieces, so not like salt beef I’d seen before. And it was not in a pail. Too bad, because a pail would probably the only thing we were going to get from this ‘bargain’!

No cooking directions on the package. Tony’s Meats website had the package of beef in brine, alongside pails of salt beef. No recipes, but at least I knew they were two different things. Googling introduced me to a whole world of brining meat. But precious little on what to do with it once it’s brined. From my reading, I figured out a tactic. It worked, so here’s my surprisingly easy sort-of Jigg’s dinner.

Beef in Brine Jigg’s Dinner

Take beef out of the package and put in a bowl of cold water. Soak it, changing the water a couple of times. I did it for 10 minutes. You could soak it longer, but that worked fine.

salt-beef-in-water-and-beer photo d stewartRinse beef and put in a large pot. (Leave the fat on. It will largely cook away.) Cover with water or water and beer. Recipes called for a bottle of dark beer. I used Alpine lager.

Bring to the boiling point and let simmer an hour. Skim off froth as needed.

simmering-beef-with-veggies-photo-d-stewartAdd chunks of potatoes, carrots and onions. Turnip too, but I didn’t have any. Simmer for half an hour.

Add chunks of cabbage and let simmer another half hour. I added no seasonings – certainly no salt! And that’s it.

Put the meat on a platter to slice (across the grain). Scoop the vegetables into a big bowl. And serve. Mustard or mustard pickle goes really well with it.slicing-brined-beef-photo-d-stewart

I froze the liquid for use as beef stock. But remember, it’s already salty.

beef in brine dinner-photo-d-stewartI’m happy that I have finally cooked salt beef. It’s a cooking hurdle that I never would have taken on if I’d known that’s what I was doing! So I’ll try it again. And next time, I’ll make pease pudding with it. Then it would be a real Newfoundland Jigg’s dinner.

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.