Monday, September 14, 2009

Beef Stew with Dried Mushrooms

We had a wonderful weekend with lots and lots of rain. We needed it so I didn't complain about how muddy and wet my kids stayed constantly all weekend long (ok, I only complained a little). With the rain came cooler weather and we were anxious to make beef stew. Our original plan was smoke the stew on the Big Green Egg. However, in our move back in January, we lost the cast iron dutch oven. Our beef stew was instead made on the stove top in a traditional manner. Maybe by the next time we get cool, beef stew weather we will have found the dutch oven.

This is an all afternoon type of recipe. The longer you cook it, the more tender the beef. I think Curtis cooked this for 3 - 4 hours and the beef just fell apart on your fork. It was wonderful. I am sure you could also do this in a crockpot. Our stew meat came already cut (part of our split quarter cow we bought in April), which took out a step. For the broth we used 2 c of beef broth (leftover from when we made beef zucchini enchiladas) and then added red wine part way through cooking because the stew looked dry.

We liked this recipe--all 4 of us. My only complaint that the version we made didn't seem stew like as much as it seemed liked a thick brothy stroganoff type thing. We served it over rice, but I think it would also be really good on top of some nice wide egg noodles. We'll make this again, either as a stroganoff or we may add some potatoes and carrots to make it more stew like.

Beef Stew with Dried Mushrooms
adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 - 2 1/2 lbs stew meat, trimmed of surface fat and cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 lg (3 medium) onions, cut into eighths
2 c beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock or water, wine, or a combination as needed)
1 bay leaf

Heat the stock until steaming. Soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot stock until soft, about 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a large soup pot/Dutch oven on medium high heat until hot. Add the meat to the skillet, a little at a time, and brown well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. (The meat browns best if it is not overcrowded. Brown in batches if necessary). Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pot, spoon off most of fat left in pan (if you are using grassfed beef, there may not be much fat left in the pan--if that's the case, don't take any out). Add the onions and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the mushrooms from the stock and cut out any hard spots. Add the warmed stock, porcini mushrooms, and bay leaf to the pot. Cook until the meat is tender (At least one hour, longer makes more tender meat). If the stew looks dry (like ours did), add extra liquid. Serve hot over a starch like rice or noodles.

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